There have been 54 draft classes in Vikings history. As it is with entire seasons, some of those years produced better results than others. But with the 55th draft in Vikings history just around the corner, here's a look at my top five drafts in franchise history.
5. 2007: Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Brian RobisonAdrian Peterson has rewritten the record books with six of the franchise's top seven rushing seasons. Peterson also became just the seventh 2,000-yard rusher in team history, the third fastest to 10,000 rushing yards and was named NFL MVP in 2012. Brian Robison remains a core player on the Vikings defense and Rice was a key piece of the 2009 team that advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
4. 1977: Tommy Kramer, Dennis Swilley, Tom Hannon, Scott StudwellKramer, a first-round quarterback, and Swilley, a second-round offensive guard, combined to play 23 seasons for the Vikings and were key parts of teams that made the playoffs seven times and appeared in two NFC title games. Perhaps most importantly, though, is that Studwell was a part of this draft. He became the Vikings all-time leading tackler and is one of the most revered figures in team history, but he is also still an integral part of the franchise because he serves in the scouting department.
3. 2003: Kevin Williams, EJ Henderson, Nate BurlesonThe Vikings nabbed a pair of future defensive stalwarts in '03, as EJ Henderson and Kevin Williams teamed to lead plenty of stingy Vikings defenses from 2003-2011. Both were also named to the 50 Greatest Vikings team in 2010. Burleson is still playing in the League today and will suit up in 2013 for Cleveland.
2. 1961: Tommy Mason, Rip Hawkins, Fran Tarkenton, Ed SharockmanThe first draft in team history remains one of the top two drafts the franchise has ever had. Tarkenton is a Hall of Famer who at his retirement led the NFL in career passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdown passes; he also was named MVP in 1975 and led the Vikings to three Super Bowls. Three members of the '61 class were named to the 50 Greatest Vikings team (Mason, Tarkenton, Sharockman).
1. 1967: Clinton Jones, Gene Washington, Alan Page, Bobby BryantThe Vikings played in four Super Bowls from 1969-76, and a big reason for that run was the draft of 1967, where the club selected three players who were named to the 50 Greatest Vikings team. One of those four, defensive tackle Alan Page, is a Hall of Famer and will go down as one of the greatest to ever play for the Vikings.
Biggest Snub: 2012It was tough to leave the Vikings Class of 2012 out of this list, but perhaps we should let another year or two pass before we hold them in such high acclaim. Things are looking pretty good for this group, though, with eight of the 10 picks still important contributors to the club (Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson, Jarius Wright, Rhett Ellison, Robert Blanton, Blair Walsh, Audie Cole).
TBD: 2013 2014It's too early to cast a final judgment on the 2013 and 2014 draft classes. With three first-round picks (Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, Cordarrelle Patterson) and three other selections (Gerald Hodges, Jeff Locke and Michael Mauti) still on the roster, things are looking up for the 2013 class. Exceptional debut seasons from Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater along with promising beginnings for Jerick McKinnon and Shamar Stephen have the 2014 class poised to break into this Top 5 soon.
Honorable Mention1988: Randall McDaniel, Brad Edwards, Al Noga, Todd Kalis
1994: Dewayne Washington, Todd Steussie, David Palmer, Fernando Smith, Pete Bercich
1998: Randy Moss, Matt Birk
1999: Daunte Culpepper, Jim Kleinsasser
2009: Percy Harvin, Phil Loadholt, Jasper Brinkley, Jamarca Sanford