Purple Haze and Draft Daze: A Partial History of Vikings Draft Day Disappointment

posted Apr 14, 2019, 1:35 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Apr 28, 2020, 7:37 AM ]

I love the NFL draft.  I really look forward to it.  I think I get excited because we’re often left heartbroken at the end of the previous season and it brings renewal and hope.  Or maybe it’s like Christmas morning.  When draft day is finally here it’s like running downstairs to open presents.   But just like the disappointment of getting socks and underwear instead of toys, some of the Vikings drafts over the years have been less than satisfying.  As a matter of fact, some have been real head shakers.  Every team drafts players who turn out to be busts or has stories of strange things that happen in the war room.  But it seems like the Vikings have turned draft day blunders into an art form. 

Because it’s part of our vibe at WHEN-ESOTA?, we take a look back at some of the Vikings less finer moments on draft day.   Remember, this is all done in good fun and in the hopes of exorcising the demons of the past. 

Do you know why you’re special?  - 1982 (April 27)  

In the 1982 draft, then Vikings General Manager Mike Lynn used the #7 pick to draft running back Darrin Nelson out of Stanford.  I wouldn’t say Nelson was a bust.  He was a long time Viking and had a decent career.  Why then is this considered a draft miscue?   Three picks later the Oakland Raiders took running back Marcus Allen out of USC.  Marcus Allen is a Hall of Famer.  Darrin Nelson dropped the ball on the goal line of the NFC championship game vs the Redskins. 

Completely random thoughts about Darrin Nelson:
1.  Remember his United Way commercials?  “Do you know why you’re special?”  Still makes me giggle.
2.  The KQRS bits where Herschel Walker and Darren would have confusing conversations.  Hilarious. 

Speaking of Herschel Walker….

I actually started writing about the entire Herschel Walker trade and all the details.  But let’s be honest, this trade was one of the biggest disasters in Minnesota sports history.  Trying to summarize it here wasn’t going to work.  So I decided to make it its own blog.  Click here to read.   For right now, let’s just address the draft picks we lost in that trade. 

1990 (April 22-23)
No 1st, 2nd or 6th round picks

1991 (April 21-22)
No 1st or 2nd round picks

1992 (April 26-27)
No 1st or 3rd round picks. 

This would be the third year in a row the Vikings would not have a 1st round pick.  And after not having a 2nd for the last two years, they used this years 2nd round pick on…Robert Harris.  Hmmph. 

Having no 1st or 2nd round pick for that many years in a row is absolutely mind blowing.  I’m shocked the Vikings even survived.  Jimmy Johnson was a genius and absolutely fleeced us.  Dallas used those picks to rebuild their franchise and won 3 Superbowls in the 1990’s.  Ouch.  

Don’t be such a Sapp! - 1995 (April 22)

The Vikings drafted DE Derrick Alexander at #10 overall.  Alexander wasn’t terrible.  He spent 4 years with the Vikings and recorded 17.5 sacks.  However, taken one pick later was a DT named Warren Sapp.  Like Marcus Allen, Warren Sapp is a Hall of famer.  Teams miss on draft picks all the time.  But that’s a pretty big one. 


The Curious Case of Dimitrius Underwood- 1999 (April 17)

The Vikings actually had 2 first round picks in this draft.  The first (#11 overall) was used on QB Daunte Culpepper.  With the other (#29 overall), the Vikings selected DE Dimitrius Underwood.  A day after he signed his contract, he walked out of practice and didn’t return.  He said he couldn’t resolve his conflict between football and his faith and forfeited most of his bonus.  He eventually tried to come back but it never really panned out and he was eventually released. This is clearly the Vikings worst draft pick of all time.  Bleacher Report has called it the worst NFL draft pick of all time. 

Fool me once…. 

2002 (April 20)
The Vikings had the 7th overall pick.  The Chiefs had the 6th.  Fro some reason, the Vikings thought that the Chiefs had run out of time.  The Vikings hurried with their pick to the podium attempting to select DT Ryan Sims only to find out that the Chiefs still had time left and were selecting…wait for it.  Ryan Sims.   The Vikings ended up picking Bryant McKinnie.  Luckily, that worked out in our favor, but you would think it would have taught the Vikings a lesson about the draft clock, especially the very next year…. 

2003 (April 26)
The Vikings again had the #7 overall pick.  But they failed to get their card to the podium in time and ended up picking 9th after Jacksonville and Carolina quickly took advantage of the Vikings incompetency.  Jacksonville took QB Byron Leftwich.  Carolina took OT Jordan Gross.  Apparently, the Vikings were trying to complete a trade with Baltimore, but in the words of Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, the trade was not ‘consummated’.  I think that means we got screwed.  To this day the Vikings claim they got the player they wanted anyways in DT Kevin Williams.  

Dropping the ball- 2005 (April 23)

In 2007 the Vikings selected Troy Williamson with the 7th overall pick.  He was fast, but he couldn’t catch.  Kind of an important trait for a wide receiver to have.  The Vikings thought it was an eyesight problem and sent him to vision specialists….at Nike.  Makes sense.  

And not only was Williamson one of the worst picks the Vikings ever made, there is an additional kick in the crotch to this story.  The Vikings had another pick in the first round that year (#18 overall) which they used to select DE Erasmus James.  Yeah, he was a bust too.  But that’s not the worst of it.  Six picks later the Packers selected a QB out of California named Aaron Rodgers.  Yep…we selected Troy Williamson AND Erasmus James ahead of A-Rodge.  That might be worse than the Timberwolves Taking Rubio and Flynn ahead of Steph Curry.    

Something to Ponder - 2011 (April 28)

In 2011, current Vikings GM Rick Spielman used the 12th overall pick on Christian Ponder.  CHRISTIAN FRICKING PONDER!!!!!!!!  Some think Spielman is currently on the hot seat.  If he ever gets fired, this will be ‘Exhibit A’ in his termination meeting.  


Spielman must be a ‘leg man’ – 2012 (April 28)

If Ponder is ‘Exhibit A’, then Exhibits B, C and D will ALL be kickers.  In 2012, Spielman used a 6th round pick to select Blair Walsh.  He kicked well enough his first few seasons that in the summer of 2015 they gave him a 4-year extension.  However, In January 2016 at the frigid TCF Bank Stadium on the U of M campus, the Vikings played in their first playoff game in 3 years, and their first under Head Coach Mike Zimmer.  Walsh missed a potential game winning FG from 27 yards with 26 seconds left and the Seahawks went on to win.  From that point on he was a disaster.  The following year he struggled with both FG’s and extra points and was released after a week 10 loss to the Redskins.

2013 (April 27)
In the 5th round Spielman selected punter Jeff Locke.  At that time only 9 punters had been drafted…EVER.  He lasted 4 seasons with the Vikings. 

2018 (April 28)
Less than 20 kickers have been drafted in the 5th round or higher since 2000.  To quote fivethirtyeight.com’s Michael Salfino, “a fifth-round pick for a kicker is more like a first-rounder for any other position.”  And you would think after the Blair Witch project crashed and burned, Spielman would have thought twice about doing it.  But 6 years to the day of drafting Blair Walsh, he rolled the dice again and selected K Daniel Carlson in the 5th round.  Carlson lasted 2 games.  He was released after missing 3 FGs in a week 2 game with the packers that ended in a tie.  

There’s more to the ridiculousness of drafting Carlson.  Most people don’t realize it, but not only did Spielman draft another disaster kicker, but he traded UP to do it.  ANNNNNDDDD?  The pick he traded up to get?  It was originally ours!   That’s right.  We had originally traded pick #167 to the Jets and then traded to get it back…and used it to draft a frickin kicker.  WTF? 


No Experience Necessary – 2016 (April 30)

In the 6th Round Spielman drafted Moritz Boehringer, a TE from Germany who NEVER PLAYED COLLEGE FOOTBALL.  Rolling the dice on someone like him in the 6th round doesn’t bother me as much as watching Spielman and Zimmer being interviewed on NFL network sitting on a couch laughing about it.  It came off like they couldn’t believe they actually did it.  Not a good look. 


Decisions that come back to bite you in the ass

When QB Teddy Bridgewater was very severely injured at training camp prior to the 2016 season, the Vikings traded with the Philadelphia Eagles for QB Sam Bradford giving up some draft picks, including a first rounder in 2017.  The Eagles used that pick to draft DE Derek Barnett. 

In the 2018 NFC championship game against the Eagles, that very same Derek Barnett had a strip sack on Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, causing a turnover and giving the Eagles the momentum.  Philadelphia never looked back and went on to win Superbowl LII.



I’m guessing there are a few more out there that I missed.  I really hope not, because I’m not sure I can my blood pressure can take any more.  But if there are, feel free to submit them and as always, I will add them and credit you. 







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