Earlier this week, Craig Peters, Eric Smith and I engaged in a "debate" of sorts over the best first-round draft pick in Vikings history.
And while arguments can be made for three Hall of Famers in Randy Moss, Alan Page and Randall McDaniel, Eric pointed out that Moss being picked so far into the first round is significant. Twitter users overwhelmingly agreed it was Moss:
CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin took the receiver's status even farther. In the weeks leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, CBS Sports has been ranking the top draft picks of all time at every pick from 1-32. And at No. 21? Moss was the easy favorite. Benjamin wrote:
They don't get much better than this. … While he became somewhat of a journeyman after his first stint in Minnesota, encountering both highs and lows during stops in Oakland, New England and Tennessee, Moss was [always] a game-changing presence – a big-play threat who required opposing defenses to plan around him. Named to the NFL's 100thanniversary team, he still ranks second in all-time receiving scores (156), fourth in all-time receiving yards (15,292) and 15th in catches (982).
A four-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler who entered the Hall of Fame in 2018, Moss paired a showy personality with a showier skill set, five times leading the NFL in receiving TDs and opening his career with an astounding six straight 1,200-yard seasons [in Minnesota]. He also set the NFL single-season record for receiving scores when he caught 23 TDs from Tom Brady on the Patriots in 2007, the year New England went 16-0 in the regular season. A 1,000-yard wideout in 10 of his first 12 seasons, Moss hit double-digit TDs nine times and peaked with 1,632 yards in 2003 with the Vikings. In other words, he was one of the game's very best for years.
Why is he No. 1 here? The numbers should speak for themselves. Only Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens and Larry Fitzgerald have more career yardage out wide. More than that, though, Moss wasn't just padding empty stats. He was constantly threatening teams with his talent, not to mention – at his best – making teams like Minnesota and New England true contenders.
Behind Moss on Benjamin's list were former Lynn Swann (1974), Vince Wilfork (2004), Chandler Jones (2012) and Alex Mack (2009).
How about one spot later, at No. 22? Don't look now, but another Vikings receiver has made the list after just one season in the books. (Note: We didn't include any current Vikings in consideration for the best first round pick).
That's right – Justin Jefferson was tabbed as the third-best draft selection from the 22nd spot in league history. CBS Sports' Jared Dubin wrote:
Yes, that Justin Jefferson. Yes, already. No, it's not too soon.
Jefferson has played one NFL season. During that season, he caught 88 passes for a rookie-record 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl and was named a second-team All-Pro. There have only been 62 seasons where a player went for 88-1400-7 in the history of American professional football, and Jefferson already has one of them. All of the other guys to do it went on to have extremely long, productive careers, and obviously, several of them are either already in or on their way to the Hall of Fame.
The only player to record more than one such season at the age of 25 or younger is Larry Fitzgerald. Jefferson has four more chances to join him. I wouldn't bet against it. He's a special player.
Receiver Andre Rison (1989 NFL Draft) led the No. 22 list. He was followed by Harris Barton (1987), Jefferson, Jack Reynolds (1970) and Demaryius Thomas (2010).
Vikings lead the way in '10-year draft success' for RBs
With the NFL Draft fast-approaching, analytics site Pro Football Focus took a deep-dive into every team’s draft success at various positions.
PFF's Timo Riske explained the process:
For each draft pick, we look at the value he generated during his rookie contract and compare it to the distribution of outcomes based on where he was drafted. To measure success at a given position, we look at the percentiles of all draft picks at that position and take a weighted average, with higher picks weighted more heavily.
Among running backs, Minnesota led the league by a fairly wide margin. And remember, the time range measured doesn't even taken into account the Vikings selection of Adrian Peterson in 2007.
Minnesota is the only team in the 70th percentile for running back draft success, followed by division-rival Chicago (high 60th percentile).
With Adrian Peterson as a workhorse for a long time, the Minnesota Vikings took only three shots at running backs in the last 10 years: Jerick McKinnon, Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. All of them outplayed their draft position.
The Vikings also ranked in the top half of the league for linebackers, tight ends and receivers.