No matter what so-called "draft experts" say, selecting football players out of college is always a roll of the dice. Still, the Minnesota Vikings have landed a number of outstanding players who became the cornerstones of the franchise for years. Here are the top twenty first round picks in Vikings history, based on length of career, statistics, awards, and contribution to the team's success.
20) Tommy Mason, RB, 1961: The first first round pick in Vikings history played in 70 games, starting 51, in his six years with the team. He rushed for 3,252 yards, caught 151 passes out of the backfield, and also returned punts and kickoffs. Mason was selected to three Pro Bowls.
19) Doug Martin, DE, 1980: Martin started and ended his career with the team on controversial notes, but was a pretty good player on the field during the early and mid-1980's. He played in 126 games, starting 94, and his 60.5 sacks rank seventh in team history.
18) Steve Riley, OT, 1974: Riley started 121 games at left tackle during his 11 year career, protecting the blind side of quarterbacks Fran Tarkenton and Tommy Kramer.
17) Ted Brown, RB, 1979: Brown played in 106 games during his eight year career with Minnesota, ranking fifth on the team's rushing list with 4,546 yards and seventh in scoring with 53 touchdowns.
16) Gene Washington, WR, 1967: Playing in 81 games in his six seasons with the Vikings, Washington was named to the Pro Bowl in 1969 and 1970 and was the team's top receiver during those dominant years.
15) Robert Smith, RB, 1993: A two time Pro Bowl selection, Smith played in 98 games during his eight seasons with the team. Currently the Vikes all-time leader in rushing yards with 6,818.
14) Keith Millard, DT, 1984: Selected All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl twice, Millard was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 when he recorded 18 sacks. Millard was a key piece of the team's outstanding defenses in the late '80's, appearing in 75 games during his six years with the Vikes.
13) Fred McNeil, OLB, 1974: Playing in 167 games and starting 122 at outside linebacker during his 12 years with the team, McNeil recovered 16 fumbles, intercepted 7 passes, and recorded 13 quarterback sacks.
12) Tommy Kramer, QB, 1977: While injured often during his 13 years with the Vikes, Kramer did start 110 games at quarterback and ranks second in most passing categories, including yards and touchdowns.
11) Kevin Williams, DT, 2003: A six time Pro Bowl selection, Williams started all 171 games he has appeared in. He ranks eighth with 60 QB sacks, knocked down 66 passes, forced 8 fumbles, and recovered 13, returning two for touchdowns. Williams also intercepted 5 passes, bring back two for scores.
10) Randy Moss, WR, 1998: A five time Pro Bowl selection during his seven seasons with Minnesota, Moss is second in team history in a number of receiving categories, including 587 receptions, 9,316 yards, and 92 touchdowns.
9) Jeff Siemon, MLB, 1972: A key player as the middle linebacker on the team's top defenses in the mid-1970's, Siemon played in 156 games, starting 123, and was selected to four Pro Bowls. He forced 14 fumbles, recovered 11, had 6 QB sacks, and 11 interceptions.
8) Adrian Peterson, RB, 2007: After seven seasons and 103 games, Peterson holds the Viking record in rushing yards with 10,115 and is first in rushing touchdowns with 86. A six time Pro Bowl selection.
7) Joey Browner, S, 1983: Selected to the Pro Bowl as a safety six times in his nine seasons, Browner played in 145 games, starting 117. He is fourth in interceptions with 37, third in passes defensed with 76, fifth in forced fumbles with 18, and fifth in fumble recoveries in 17. He also recorded 9.5 QB sacks, first among Viking defensive backs, and scored 4 touchdowns.
6) Chuck Foreman, RB, 1973: An exceptional runner and receiver who could turn around a game, Foreman was selected to the Pro Bowl five times in his seven seasons in Minnesota. He rushed for 5,887 yards and 52 touchdowns, and caught 336 passes for another 23 scores.
5) Chris Doleman, DE, 1985: A six time Pro Bowl selection, Doleman played in 154 games, starting 142, in 10 seasons with the Vikings. He leads the team with 33 forced fumbles, is sixth in fumble recoveries with 16, seventh in tackles-for-loss with 60, and fifth in sacks with 96.5. He also intercepted five passes, scored two touchdowns, and recorded two safeties.
4) Ron Yary, OT, 1968: Selected to the Pro Bowl seven times in his 14 years with the Vikings, Yary played in 199 games and started 180 at right offensive tackle. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.
3) Randall McDaniel, G, 1988: Selected to the Pro Bowl a record 12 times in his 12 years with the Vikings, he played in 190 games, starting 188 at left guard. McDaniel was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
2) Carl Eller, DE, 1964: The team's all-time leader in QB sacks with 130, Eller was selected to six Pro Bowls. He ranks second in tackles-for-loss with 87, second in fumble recoveries with 23, and seventh in forced fumbles with 15. He also blocked 15 kicks. Eller played in 209 games, fourth in team history, and started 201. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, an honor that was long overdue.
1) Alan Page, DT, 1967: A defensive tackle who changed the game in the late 1960's and early 1970's, Page was named the NFL Most Valuable Player in 1971. Selected to the Pro Bowl nine times in his 12 years with the Vikings, he played in 160 games and started 157. He is fourth in team history with 108.5 sacks, fourth with 18 fumble recoveries, third with 77 tackles-for-loss, and second with 28 forced fumbles. Page was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.