With the Vikings currently slated to have the 23rd overall pick Thursday night, **many mock drafts** predict them to take a wide receiver in the first round. Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune delved into the **Vikings history at wide receiver** as well as what goes into making a selection at that position.
In 1998, Minnesota snagged Randy Moss at No. 21. Moss played the best years of his career with the Vikings, recording six consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus receiving yards. Since 1998, the Vikings have drafted three receivers in the first round – Troy Williamson (2005), Percy Harvin (2009) and Cordarrelle Patterson (2013) – and only posted two 1,000-yard receiving seasons outside of Moss.
Vensel said that teams with consistent quarterbacks often seem to have better luck with developing their drafted wide receivers, using the Packers and the Steelers as examples. Vensel wrote:
The Vikings hope that Bridgewater, who has so far brought stability to that position, will help them better develop young wideouts going forward.
Vensel also said that hands-on evaluation of players is important for a team, and Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer have both demonstrated themselves to follow that route. If the Vikings do take a receiver at No. 23, Vensel said it's possible to find highly productive players there.
Seven of the 10 receivers selected between the 20th and 32nd picks since 2010 produced at least 1,000 receiving yards in a season within their first three years in the NFL, according to the "Cincinnati Enquirer." Pro Bowl selections Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins are among the receivers who were snagged between the 20th and 32nd picks.
Goessling: Vikings best draft class featured Alan Page
The Vikings have brought in a number of talented players through the draft over the years, but which was their overall best year? ESPN's Ben Goessling weighed in, identifying the 1967 NFL Draft as **Minnesota’s most successful**.
The Vikings selected running back Clint Jones at No. 2 and wide receiver Gene Washington No. 8 overall in 1967. Jones averaged 23.9 yards on kick returns as a rookie and totaled 2,008 rushing yards during his six seasons in Minnesota. Washington recorded 756 receiving yards as a rookie and earned All-Pro honors in 1969 as well as the first of two Pro Bowl nods.
Where the Vikings really succeeded in the 1967 was their third pick of the first round, when they drafted defensive end Alan Page 15th overall.
Page was the last piece of the "Purple People Eaters" defensive front to join the Vikings; he was also the most important. The full impact of Page's career is muted by the lack of widely available defensive statistics from his era, but he's unofficially credited with 148.5 sacks for his career – which would be the most in NFL history for a defensive tackle – and he ranks fourth in team history with 18 fumble recoveries. Page also blocked 16 kicks – the second-most in Vikings history – and was the first defensive player to win league MVP honors in 1971. Lawrence Taylor is the only other defensive player in league history to win the award.
Other Vikings picks in 1967 included wide receiver Bob Grim (28th overall) and defensive back Bobby Bryant (167th overall).
Goessling said the Vikings second-best draft occurred 31 years later.
The 1998 draft brought [Randy] Moss – who slipped to 21st overall because of character concerns and helped the Vikings' offense revolutionize the league. [Matt] Birk, who came to the Vikings out of Harvard in 1998, returned to his home state as a sixth-round pick, and wound up tying Hall of Famer Mick Tingelhoff for the most Pro Bowl appearances by a Vikings center (six).
A look at safeties in the 2016 draft class
As part of a positional analysis series, John Holler of Viking Update **took a closer look at the safeties** on the board for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Holler said this year's class isn't loaded with first-round options at safety but has some depth going into the second day. According to Holler, Minnesota's need at the safety position is low. He wrote:
In [Harrison] Smith they have a franchise player who will remain a Viking for years when he signs a long-term contract at some point. Having re-signed [Andrew] Sendejo and using free agency to grab the veteran [Michael] Griffin, the Vikings have depth with [Antone] Exum and [Anthony] Harris possibly competing for one roster spot. That doesn't preclude the Vikings from drafting a safety, but it doesn't make it necessarily a front-burner need.
Holler believes Ohio State's Vonn Bell and West Virginia's Karl Joseph are the top two safeties in this year's draft.
The 2016 class isn't among the better draft classes we've seen in recent years, primarily because it isn't very top-heavy. Ohio State's Vonn Bell is the only safety that some scouts are giving a first-round grade to, and it's just as likely that he won't go until Day 2. There are a handful of Day 2 prospects, but the position doesn't have elite depth, which will make needy teams consider reaching to get one of the few players that could make an immediate impact.