2013 NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings Top 15 Draft Picks Since 2000

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2013 NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings Top 15 Draft Picks Since 2000

2013 NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings Top 15 Draft Picks Since 2000
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2013 NFL Draft a little over a month away, the Minnesota Vikings have made a significant splash to alter their current—and future team—with the trade of Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for a package headlined by a first round draft pick, number 25 overall. This is not the first time the Vikings have traded a disgruntled wide receiver for a draft pick as the team shipped star receiver Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders in 2005 for the number seven overall pick, which ended up being Troy Williamson.

Willamson never panned out for the Vikings and it’s too early to say if the number 25 selection in this year’s draft will yield anything of merit as well; but one thing is for certain, the NFL draft is one of the most exciting—and frustrating—parts of running an NFL franchise. When a team does poorly and inherits a top pick in the upcoming draft, the pressure for that team to pick a superstar or franchise altering player is extremely high. Sometimes teams make great picks that alter their franchise for decades, while other times they make picks that hinder their franchise for years on end. Whatever the case may be, great attention to detail is given to every move leading up to the NFL draft in late April.

The Vikings have had their fair share of success and failures throughout their franchise’s history. For every Moss that the team has drafted, the team has also drafted a Williamson; but since 2000, the Vikings have experienced varying levels of success with their draft classes. As of late, General Manager Rick Spielman has done a nice job of making solid, impactful selections in the draft, with many of the players turning into starters for the Vikings. With a team set on building the foundation of their franchise through the draft, an added importance is placed on succeeding each year when the Vikings are put on the clock.

Before you turn your attention to the options that Vikings now have with the number 23 and 25 overall pick in the April draft, let’s look back at the top 15 players that the team has drafted since 2000.

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15. Chris Hovan-2000

15. Chris Hovan-2000
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Hovan was drafted 26 overall in the 2000 draft and appeared in 77 career games for the purple and gold and amassed 97 career tackles 17 career sacks over his five seasons with the Vikings. Known for his on-the-field demeanor and face paintings as well as his consistent yearly production, Hovan became an integral piece of the Vikings defensive line during the early 2000s.

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14. Ray Edwards-2006

14. Ray Edwards-2006
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Taken in the fourth round with the 127 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the Vikings took a shot on Edwards and ended up getting five solid seasons out of the unpredictable defensive end. In his five seasons with the Vikings, Edwards played in 72 games amassing 29.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and 139 total tackles. Not too shabby for a fourth round pick. “Sugar Ray” Edwards is currently a free-agent and looking for work while his “emerging” pro boxing career attempts to take off.

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13. Brian Robison-2007

13. Brian Robison-2007
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Sticking with the defensive theme, the Vikings once again made a great fourth round pick when they selected Robison in 2007 with the 102 pick overall. Robison has earned an expanded role over the past few seasons with the departure of the aforementioned Edwards and has put up solid numbers with his increased playing time. Robison—in six seasons with the Vikings—has appeared in 94 games with 38 starts, 30 sacks, nine forced fumbles and 101 tackles. Robison figures to be one of the mainstays on the Vikings defensive line over the next few seasons.

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12. E.J Henderson-2003

12. E.J Henderson-2003
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The second-round pick and 40th overall selection in the 2003 NFL Draft, Henderson had a solid career with the Vikings during his nine year career with the team. The middle-linebacker appeared in 125 games—starting 105 of them—and accumulated 15.5 sacks, five interceptions, one defensive touchdown, 13 forced fumbles and 553 career tackles as a member of the Vikings. Unfortunately for Henderson, injuries derailed much of his time with the team and eventually contributed to his departure from the organization following the 2011 season.

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11. Michael Bennett-2001

11. Michael Bennett-2001
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The speedster ran his way to a solid career with the Vikings after being selected with the 27th pick in the 2001 draft. Although he has run into his fair share of legal problems over the past few years, Bennett had a solid career while he was a member of the Vikings. Bennett—in his five years with the club—appeared in 64 games and rushed for 3,174 yards and 12 touchdowns with his best season coming in 2002 when he rushed for 1,296 yards and five touchdowns. Bennett’s inability to remain healthy eventually led to his dismissal following the 2005 season.

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10. Harrison Smith-2012

10. Harrison Smith-2012
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

It may be too soon to pass judgment on the young safety who was drafted with the 29th overall selection in the 2012 draft, but Smith has made quite the impact and first impression on the organization in his one season. In his lone season at the NFL, Smith had one sack, three interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, one forced fumble and 69 total tackles as a rookie. Smith’s hard-nosed and aggressive brand of football has gained him a reputation around the league and has caught the eye of fans in Vikings territory as the team prepares for the 2013 season.

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9. John Sullivan-2008

9. John Sullivan-2008
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to talk about a sleeper in the draft who turned into an all-pro, look no further than Sullivan. After being drafted in the sixth round with the 187th overall pick in 2008, Sullivan has turned into an all-pro center for the Vikings and the centerpiece of their emerging offensive line that opened up holes for their star running back Adrian Peterson this past season. Sullivan had the difficult task of following in the footsteps of longtime Vikings center Matt Birk, but his production and leadership has forged his own legacy and has allowed the Vikings to move on from one great center to their latest.

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8. Kyle Rudolph-2011

8. Kyle Rudolph-2011
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Selected in the 2nd round with the 43rd overall pick in 2011, Rudolph had a breakout season in 2012 for the Vikings, earning himself his first trip to the Pro Bowl where he promptly garnered MVP honors. Last season, Rudolph garnered 53 receptions for 493 yards and nine touchdowns and has a total of 79 receptions, 742 yards and 12 touchdowns over his two year career. Rudolph is expected to be one of the top players in the organization over the next few seasons and figures to emerge as one of the best tight-ends in all of football as he continues to improve.

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7. Sidney Rice-2007

7. Sidney Rice-2007
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the 44th overall selection in the 2nd round in the 2007 draft, the Vikings took the lanky Rice to improve a depleted receiving core that was in need of help. Rice stepped in and became an integral part of their 2009 NFC Championship Game team that fell one game short of the Super Bowl. In his career, Rice amassed 146 catches, 2,129 yards and 18 touchdowns over 48 career games with his best season coming in 2009 when he put up 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. Granted his best season came as the beneficiary to Brett Favre’s magical 2009 season, but Rice quickly established himself as on the best young receivers in football following that season. Unfortunately, Rice left for the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 where he currently is entrenched as a starting receiver.

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6. Matt Kalil-2012

6. Matt Kalil-2012
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

This may be a bit premature, but the impact that the number four overall pick in last season’s draft has already had on this offensive line is so staggering that Kalil merits the number six overall spot on this list. Kalil has brought stability to the offensive line that was searching for an answer to protect Christian Ponder’s blindside following the departure of Bryant McKinnie. Kalil could be higher on this list as time goes on, but for now he remains firmly entrenched at number six.

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5. Bryant McKinnie-2002

5. Bryant McKinnie-2002
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Although he may have been one of the most frustrating players in recent Vikings’ history, McKinnie did have a solid career for the team after being drafted with the number seven overall pick in 2002. Known for his overweight body composition and frequent lack of attention, McKinnie drew the ire of many fans with his play over the latter stages of his career with the Vikings; however when he was on and decided to play—as illustrated by his play in this year’s playoffs for the Baltimore Ravens—McKinnie was one of the better tackles the Vikings have had in recent memory. If McKinnie would have stayed off that forsaken love boat or if he would of committed to a strenuous diet, the possibilities could have been endless.

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4. Chad Greenway-2006

4. Chad Greenway-2006
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Mount Vernon, South Dakota native drafted number 17 overall in the 2006 draft has emerged as one of the best linebackers in recent Vikings’ history. Greenway has 11.5 sacks, six interceptions, one defensive touchdown, seven forced fumbles and 533 total tackles over his six year pro career. Greenway has also been selected to the past two Pro Bowls and figures to be one of the elite outside backers in all of football over the next few seasons.

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3. Percy Harvin-2009

3. Percy Harvin-2009
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Although he may be recently departed and the wounds may still be fresh, when Harvin was on the field he was one of the best playmakers in all of football during his career with the Vikings. The enigmatic receiver—who was selected with the 22nd overall pick in 2009—had his fair share of injuries during his career, but also seemed to be making big plays for the Vikings whether it be on offense or special teams. During his four-year career with the team, Harvin amassed 280 receptions, 3,302 yards, 20 receiving touchdowns, 683 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns and five kick returns for touchdowns in 54 career games. Harvin’s playmaking ability will certainly be missed in Minnesota, but his attitude and stubbornness will be gladly forgotten.

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2. Kevin Williams-2003

2. Kevin Williams-2003
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Remembered for being the ninth overall selection in the 2003 NFL Draft, Williams actually went a slot lower than the pick the Vikings originally owned. The team decided to go past their allotted time during the draft, which allowed Jacksonville Jaguars to pick Byron Leftwich and the Carolina Panthers to take Jordan Gross before the Vikings made their selection with Williams. In hindsight, it looks like the Vikings made the right choice. Williams has had a hall-of-fame worthy career during his 10 year career with the Vikings that has produced six Pro Bowls and five all-pro seasons. Statistically, Williams has generated 56.5 sacks, four interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, eight forced fumbles and 316 total tackles from his defensive tackle position over his career. Entering the twilight of his career, Williams still is playing at a dominant level and is a mainstay in the middle of the Vikings defense.

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1. Adrian Peterson-2007

1. Adrian Peterson-2007
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a no-brainer. With the seventh overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Vikings got a future hall-of-famer in Peterson who has been every bit as impressive as advertised. Peterson has mystified defenses and fans alike during his six-year career with the Vikings that has produced five Pro Bowls, three all-pro selections and one MVP award this past season. Peterson has put up 8,849 career yards and 76 touchdowns over 89 career games and had his best season this past season when he almost broke Eric Dickerson’s career rushing record 2,105 yards by rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. In addition, Peterson accomplished these feats after coming off of ACL surgery only 9 months prior, so the toughness, talent and production that Peterson has accomplished certainly merits the number one spot on this list. Peterson will be the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future as the Vikings attempt to surround him with enough pieces to build a championship contender.


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