The Vikings selected 66 players in fourth rounds and 60 players in fifth rounds of the first 60 NFL Drafts in franchise history.
But who are the best in each of those rounds?
Vikings.com's Eric Smith, Lindsey Young and Craig Peters will try to answer this by presenting cases for three players in the fourth round and three more in the fifth round to continue a series that began with the first round (Randy Moss won the fan vote by a mile) on April 7.
Matt Blair was voted by fans as the best Vikings pick of a second round, and Fran Tarkenton had a direct line (instead of one of his famous scrambles) to his selection as the best in a third round last week.
After this installment, we'll close with the sixth, seventh and "beyond" on April 28.
Note: We did not include anyone currently on the Vikings roster in our deliberations because their on-field contributions to the organization are ongoing.
Best of the Fourth Round
The Vikings are entering the 2021 NFL Draft with four picks in the fourth round, which would be the most ever used by Minnesota in one year, breaking three in 2012 and 2020.
General Manager Rick Spielman could use some of the Vikings fourth-round picks to try to get into the second round, or he could stand pat and rely on depth lasting. Spielman's first use of a fourth-round pick with Minnesota in 2007 landed Brian Robison, and his second use (which wasn't until 2010) brought Everson Griffen to the Vikings.
Robison and Griffen made our list along with Roy Winston. The nominees are listed chronologically by year selected. Be sure to vote below.
Roy Winston, LB | No. 45 Overall, 1962 | Years with Vikings: 1962-76
The Vikings landed Winston out of LSU in the second draft in franchise history and were able to get him to spurn an offer from the Chargers, who picked him in the 1962 AFL Draft when the leagues were rivals. Winston later explained that his love for hunting and fishing in his home state of Louisiana helped influence his choice.
Winston appeared in 13 games as a rookie and became a starter in 1963. The following season, he became the first Vikings player to intercept three passes in one game (Oct. 25, 1964 at San Francisco), setting a franchise record that has been tied multiple times but never topped.
The first sack recorded by a Viking in a Super Bowl? That was Winston, too, on Minnesota's sixth defensive snap of Super Bowl IV (sacks didn't become an official stat until 1982). The linebacker was part of all four Vikings teams that have reached a Super Bowl. He played in 14 playoff games.
Winston totaled 11 sacks, 12 interceptions (tied for second most by a Vikings linebacker) and 14 fumble recoveries (ninth in team history) on his way to earning a spot among the 50 Greatest Vikings.
Lastly, pro-football-reference.com gives Winston a weighted career approximate value of 83 that is higher than Griffen (65) or Robison (45). So as much as I appreciated the opportunity to cover parts of the careers of Griffen and Robison, it is also fair to say Winston might be the best fourth-rounder.
— Craig Peters
View the best images of Vikings defensive lineman Brian Robison throughout his career.
Brian Robison, DE | No. 102 Overall, 2007 | Years with Vikings: 2007-17
One of the most beloved players in franchise history, Robison brought so much to the Vikings on and off the field in his 11 seasons in Purple.
In between the white lines, he played 173 career games (with 103 starts), ranking third among all defensive ends in franchise history in games played. A selfless player who always put the team first (that was evident by his accepting a reduced role in his final two seasons), Robison also had a nose for getting to the quarterback. He is tied for ninth in franchise lore with 60 career sacks.
Off the field, Robison cared deeply about the Twin Cities and always looked for ways to make the community a better place. He was also an admired teammate, using his fun-loving personality and quick wit to bond with everyone in the locker room through his "96 Questions" video segment that remains immensely popular on social media.
– Eric Smith
To celebrate his official retirement from the Vikings view images of Brian Robison's headshots with Minnesota through the years.
Everson Griffen, DE | No. 100 Overall, 2010 | Years with Vikings: 2010-19
I don't want to hear accusations of recency bias with this one; I think it's tough to find a better fourth-round selection in Vikings history than Griffen.
Minnesota drafted Griffen out of Southern California in 2010, and after four seasons of biding his time and playing special teams, the Arizona native became a full-time starter for the Vikings in 2014. Griffen thrived with recently promoted Andre Patterson as his defensive line coach and received four Pro Bowl nods over a five-season span (2015-17; 2019). In 2017, he was named Second-Team All-Pro by The Associated Press.
View some of the best images of Everson Griffen as a Viking.
Griffen helped anchor a Vikings defense under Head Coach Mike Zimmer. He finished his Vikings career with 147 games (88 starts), and he totaled 355 tackles (league stats), 86 tackles for loss, 74.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
Griffen's sacks total ranks seventh in team history.
While Winston's case is sound for multiple reasons, it's worth noting that he was drafted 45th overall in 1962, while Griffen was the 100th player taken off the board.
– By Lindsey Young
Best of the Fifth Round
Two more defensive players and one receiver made the list of nominees for fifth-round picks.
Ed Sharockman, CB | No. 57 Overall, 1961 | Years with Vikings: 1961-72
With Sharockman, the Vikings mined a tough and talented defensive back from Pennsylvania coal country and selected a player who landed in the 50 Greatest Vikings.
A broken leg suffered in a college all-star game caused Sharockman to miss all but one game of his rookie season, but he bounced back in 1962 with six interceptions to lead the team. He also led the Vikings with five interceptions in 1963, six in 1965 and seven in 1970. His six picks in 1971 ranked second behind Charlie West, who snagged seven.
Sharockman was the first of four Vikings players to lead the team in interceptions in four separate seasons. He has been joined by Bobby Bryant, Joey Browner and Antoine Winfield.
Sharockman had seven games with two or more interceptions, and his total of 40 ranks third in team history behind Hall of Famer Paul Krause (53 with Vikings) and Bryant (51).
— Craig Peters
View the Vikings rookie records for the most starts in a season.
Ed McDaniel, LB | No. 125 Overall, 1992 | Years with Vikings: 1992-2001
Ed McDaniel proved to be a steal for Minnesota in the fifth round of the 1992 NFL Draft.
The linebacker out of Clemson became a full-time starter for the Vikings after two seasons, and he never looked back. After missing the 1996 season due to a knee injury, McDaniel played 64 consecutive regular-season games, starting 63 of them.
McDaniel was part of the 1998 Vikings squad that fell one game short of appearing in Super Bowl XXXIII. He led the team in tackles that season with 128, and his 7.0 sacks ranked second behind John Randle (10.5). McDaniel added three forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries to that campaign, after which he received his first career Pro Bowl nod.
McDaniel's 17 career forced fumbles are tied for sixth in Vikings history.
– By Lindsey Young
Stefon Diggs, WR | No. 146 Overall, 2015 | Years with Vikings: 2015-19
Diggs was traded to the Bills in March of 2020, but there's no denying the impact he made in his five seasons in Purple.
After being inactive for the first three games of his rookie season, Diggs quickly turned heads with a strong rookie season, eventually blossoming into one of the game's top receivers and a skilled route runner.
Re-live the historic day of Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs from start to finish.
Diggs posted at least 800 receiving yards in his final four seasons with Minnesota, including a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019. He also caught 30 touchdowns in five seasons with the Vikings, which ranks ninth in team history.
And while all of that alone is more than enough to land him on this list, his involvement in the "Minneapolis Miracle" is only the cherry on top. Diggs' walk-off winner against the Saints in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in January of 2018 is perhaps the most iconic play in team history.
– Eric Smith