Friday, April 28, 2017

The best late round draft picks in Minnesota Vikings history

The Vikings have selected some great players in later rounds of the NFL Draft during their 51 years in the league. You don't have to be a first round draft pick to have a great career in the NFL, and these Viking players, some of whom played their entire careers with Minnesota, prove that talent can be found anywhere.

10) Terry Allen, RB, round 9, 1991: Allen rushed for over one thousand yards twice in his three years with the Vikings, and totaled 8,614 yards on the ground in a ten year career with five teams.

9) Brad Johnson, QB, round 9, 1992: Johnson played seven seasons with the Vikes; he made the Pro Bowl with the Redskins and the Buccaneers, also winning the Super Bowl with Tampa in 2002. Dumb Dennis Green and ya-hoo owner Red McCombs made the mistake of trading Johnson for draft picks after the 1998 season and instead held on to washed-up choke artist QB Randall Cunningham (who played in a mere six games the following season before being unceremoniously dumped onto the scrap heap).

8) Jeff Wright, S, round 15, 1971: Wright was a solid safety on the Vikings great defenses and Super Bowl teams from 1973-1977.

7) Milt Sunde, G, round 20, 1964: Sunde played in 147 games, starting 106, in his 11 year Viking career, contributing to the top Viking offenses in several championship years.

6) Stu Voight, TE, round 10, 1970: Voight was a steady tight end during his 11 years and 131 games with the team, contributing during the team's Super Bowl seasons in the mid-'70's.

5) Dave Osborn, RB, round 13, 1965: A tough runner and reliable receiver out of the backfield, Osborn's 4,320 rushing yards rank sixth in team history. He was named to one Pro Bowl during his 11 years with the team.

4) Matt Birk, C, round 6, 1998: Birk played in 146 games and started 123 from 1998-2008, earning six Pro Bowl nods while snapping the ball at center.

3) Steve Jordan, TE, round 7, 1982: A six time Pro Bowl selection, Jordan was a consistent and durable tight end, appearing in 176 games and starting 149 in 13 seasons. He had 498 receptions and scored 28 touchdowns.

2) Carl Lee, CB, round 7, 1983: Selected three times to the Pro Bowl, Lee played in 169 games, starting 144, during 11 seasons with the team. A key player at cornerback on the team's great defenses in the late 1980's, he is the all-time leader in passes defensed with 128, recovered 6 fumbles, and is sixth with 29 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

1) Scott Studwell, MLB, round 9, 1977: Fifth in team history with 201 games played, Studwell started 161 at middle linebacker and was selected to the Pro Bowl twice. He forced 12 fumbles, recovered 16, intercepted 11 passes, had 9 QB sacks, and ranks ninth with 46 tackles-for-loss. Studwell is the best late round draft pick in Vikings history.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The worst college drafts in Minnesota Vikings history

Through the annual college draft the Minnesota Vikings selected some great players who went on to be selected to the NFL Hall of Fame (Fran Tarkenton, Carl Eller, Ron Yary, Alan Page, Chris Doleman, Randall McDaniel) as well as many other players in both the early and late rounds of the draft who made major contributions to the team's success through the years.

However, there were many drafts where the Vikings selected mediocre players who contributed little, and led to losing seasons. Many of these drafts came under head coaches Dennis Green and Brad Childress, neither of whom was skilled in evaluating talent.

There were other drafts where Minnesota got virtually nothing from their picks. These are the worst drafts in team history, and are listed below.

10) 1990 - Running back Terry Allen had a couple of good seasons. The other players didn't make the team or were around only for a year or two. The team's scouts and coaches at this time had no idea what they were doing.

9) 1996 - Running back Moe Williams contributed a little bit. The remaining picks were total busts. Head coach Dennis Green was clueless.

8) 2000 - Pretty much a waste. Does anyone know what was going on in Coach Dennis Green's mind? An executive from a rival team commented, "I think the Vikings were drunk" while conducting this draft.

7) 2001 - Another Dennis Green disaster. Running back Michael Bennett had one good year, other than that, most draftees didn't even make the team.

6) 1963 - Wide receiver Paul Flatley had a few good seasons. None of the others made any impact, if they made the team at all.

5) 1971 - Safety Jeff Wright, taken in the 15th round, turned out to be a good player. The others were never heard from again.

4) 1966 - Running back Jim Lindsey stuck as a backup for seven years. Other than that, zero contributions from this group.

3) 2004 - Pretty much zero contributions from this draft class. Not sure what the Vikings scouts were thinking. I would imagine most are now in a different profession.

2) 2005 - Literally nothing from this group. Troy Williamson at number one was one of the team's worst first round picks ever, along with defensive end Erasmus James. Both are examples of scouts falling in love with athletic ability and ignoring whether or not the guy can play football.

1) 1989 - What a disaster. Not one player was with the team for longer than a year. Then Vikings executive Mike Lynn was a total moron when it came to football.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The worst first round draft picks in Minnesota Viking history

The Minnesota Vikings have wasted a number of first round draft picks in their 53 year history on players who never lived up expectations or contributed next to nothing to the team. Here are the ten most wasted picks that, in some cases, set the franchise back years. It's hard to believe that scouts and coaches spend so much time and energy on the draft, yet can make such bad decisions when selecting players.

10) Mark Mullaney, DE, 1975: Although he played in 151 games and started 97 in his 12 years with the team, Mullaney didn't seem to learn much from playing behind great ends Carl Eller and Jim Marshall. He never came close to being even an average pass rusher, let alone one that was worth a first round selection. A symbol of the Vikes' mediocrity from 1979 through the mid-1980's.

9) James White, DT, 1976: Didn't exactly turn out to be the next Alan Page. Started 61 games for Bud Grant during his eight years with the team. Not sure why Grant cut Page, thus making White the regular RDT; Bud must have been an optimist. White didn't even make Les Steckel's 1984 mess of team, being waived at the end of training camp.

8) Randy Holloway, DE, 1978: Another end, like Mullaney, who never amounted to much as a pass rusher or even as an average defensive lineman. Started only 31 games in his 7 years with the team and was unceremoniously dumped by Les Steckel (which isn't saying much) in the middle of the 3-13 fiasco that was the 1984 season.

7) Derrick Alexander, DE, 1995: Dennis Green was never much of a talent evaluator, and Alexander was one of his mistakes. Played only four seasons and made zero impact. Hardly worth being the 14th selection in the draft overall.

6) Gerald Robinson, DE, 1986: One of those hybrid DE/OLB types that rarely seem to pan out, Robinson, like Alexander, was the 14th overall pick in the first round. He didn't even make it through two years with the team, dumped by the Vikings after the fourth game in his second season in 1987. Not one the Vikes' scouting staff can be proud of.

5) D.J. Dozier, RB, 1987: The team hasn't had a lot of luck picking 14th in the first round. Dozier barely played in his four years with the team. His career high in rushing yardage was 257 yards in his first season, which apparently didn't impress Jerry Burns and the front office...the Vikes thought so highly of Dozier that they went out and traded away a ton of draft picks in 1989 - for RB Herschel Walker.

4) Erasmus James, DE, 2004: James started 12 games in his three seasons with the team, contributing nothing. An example of how so-called draft experts can build up a player based solely on potential - James didn't produce much in college and was often injured. Way too much of a risk to be taken in the first round. Whoever wanted to pick James should have been fired.

3) Troy Williamson, WR, 2005: Another player picked because of potential, Williamson sums up the mediocrity of the mid-2000's Vikings teams. Didn't do much in college, but was a player scouts thought could be "coached up," which almost never works. Was on the team for only three seasons, but dropped so many easy passes when he did play it's a wonder how he was drafted at all, let alone in the first round.

2) Leo Hayden, RB, 1971: Hayden's career with the team lasted one season. He appeared in seven games, with zero rushing attempts. Yikes. Was on the Cardinals' roster the next two years but barely played. Hard to believe there's a worse first round pick than this one.

1) Dimitrius Underwood, DE, 2000: Didn't even make it out of training camp. Left the team after one day and then was cut before the season started due to psychological issues. Since the Vikings had two first round picks that year, Dennis Green tried to sweep his mistake under the rug, saying it was just a "bonus pick." Uh-huh. Typical doubletalk by Green, who was a lousy evaluator of talent. Underwood had red flags coming out of college, but Green chose to ignore them. Let's hope the Vikings don't have any more misses as big as this one.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The best draft years in Minnesota Vikings history

The Minnesota Vikings have had more bad drafts than good ones. Looking at some of the players they've selected, it's hard to believe they actually were a contending team during some seasons.

A review of the Vikings' college drafts in past years did show some good ones, that resulted in players who made significant contributions to the team's success.

Here are the best ten drafts:
10) 2015 - So far it looks like a good haul from this draft, as defensive end Danielle Hunter, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, linebacker Eric Kendricks, and cornerback Trae Waynes have played well and contributed.

9) 1976 - This one netted wide receiver Sammy White, who was a key player on offense during the late '70's and early '80's. Also nabbed was guard Wes Hamilton, who was a starter and serviceable player during the same time period.

8) 1977 - Quarterback Tommy Kramer and linebacker Scott Studwell played well for years. Center Dennis Swilley and safety Tommy Hannon also contributed during the late '70's and early '80's.

7) 1964 - Defensive end Carl Eller was selected; he became one of the best Vikings of all time and a Hall of Fame member. Guard Milt Sunde was also picked, and he was a starter during the late '60's and early '70's.

6) 1961 - Quarterback Fran Tarkenton began a Hall of Fame career; running back Tommy Mason was a good player during the team's early years. Cornerback Ed Sharockman was a steady defender in the 1960's and early '70's.

5) 1968 - Offensive tackle Ron Yary became one of the best players in franchise history and a member of the Hall of Fame. Running back Oscar Reed, cornerback Charlie West, and quarterback Bob Lee also made contributions from the late '60's through the mid '70's.

4) 1998 - Wide receiver Randy Moss and center Matt Birk were selected; both became important players and Pro Bowlers.

3) 1983 - Safety Joey Browner and cornerback Carl Lee were drafted, and both were key players and Pro Bowlers on dominant defenses in the late '80's.

2) 1974 - Linebacker Matt Blair became one of the best players in Vikings history, and a perennial Pro Bowler. Offensive tackle Steve Riley started and played well for ten years. Linebacker Fred McNeil was a starter and good defensive player in the late '70's and early '80's.

1) 1967 - The Vikings were smart in selecting defensive tackle Alan Page, who became a Hall of Famer and one of the best players in NFL history. Cornerback Bobby Bryant also had a great career; he was a key piece on dominant defenses of the late '60's and early '70's. Wide receiver Gene Washington became a Pro Bowler. Running back Clint Jones, wide receiver Bob Grim, and tight end John Beasley also made contributions.

The best first round draft picks in Minnesota Vikings history

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) 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.

19) 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.

18) 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.

17) 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.

16) Robert Smith, RB, 1993: A two time Pro Bowl selection, Smith played in 98 games during his eight seasons with the team. Currently second in Vikes history in rushing yards with 6,818.

15) Chad Greenway, LB, 2006: A two time Pro Bowl selection, Greenway played in 156 games, starting 144, in a ten year career with Minnesota from 2007-2016. He recorded 18 quarterback sacks, forced 8 fumbles and recovered 11, and intercepted 11 passes, returning two for touchdowns.

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  appeared in over 11 seasons. 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) 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.

7) Adrian Peterson, RB, 2007: After ten seasons and 123 games, Peterson holds the Viking record in rushing yards with 11,747 and is first in rushing touchdowns with 97. A seven time Pro Bowl selection.

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.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The best Catchers in Major League Baseball history

The best Catchers in major league baseball history:


10) Thurman Munson:  Winner of the 1970 Rookie of the Year Award, and named the American League MVP in 1976, Munson was a seven time All Star selection. The winner of three Gold Gloves, he threw out 44% of base runners attempting to steal, and is credited with saving 34 runs in his career. Munson caught 1,278 games in eleven seasons for the Yankees from 1969-1979, batting .292 with 113 home runs and 701 RBI’s. Also, in 16 World Series games he hit .373 and drove in 12 runs.


9) Mickey Cochrane: A two time All Star, Cochrane was named American League MVP in 1928 and 1934. He has a career batting average of .320 with a .419 on-base percentage, 119 home runs, and 830 RBI’s. He threw out 39% of basestealers while catching 1,421 games in 13 seasons for the A’s and Tigers from 1925-1937.


8) Ernie Lombardi: A seven time All Star and winner of the 1938 National League MVP award, Lombardi caught 1,544 games in 17 seasons from 1931-1947, mainly with the Reds and Giants. He had a .306 career batting average, 190 home runs, 990 RBI’s, and threw out 48% of attempted base stealers.


7) Roy Campanella: Selected as the National League MVP in 1951, 1953, and 1955, Campanella was named to eight All Star teams. He threw out 57% of basestealers while catching 1,183 games in 10 seasons from 1948-1957 for the Dodgers. His career batting numbers include a .276 average, 242 home runs, and 856 RBI’s.


6) Gary Carter: Winner of three Gold Gloves, Carter is credited with saving 106 runs and caught 35% of attempted basestealers while catching 2,056 games in 20 seasons from 1974-1992, mainly with the Expos and Mets.  An eleven time All Star, he batted .262 with 324 home runs and 1,225 RBI’s.


5) Gabby Hartnett: Catching 1,793 games in 20 seasons from 1922-1941 for the Cubs and one year with the Giants, Hartnett led the National League catchers in caught stealing percentage six times, with a career mark of 56%. A six time All Star, he had a career batting average of .297 with 236 home runs and 1,179 RBI’s. Hartnett won the 1935 National League MVP award. 


4) Bill Dickey:  An eleven time All Star for the Yankees, Dickey threw out 47% of runners attempting to steal and led American League catchers in range factor per game for six seasons.  In 17 years from 1928-1946 Dickey caught 1,708 games, while batting .313 with 202 home runs and 1,209 RBI’s.


3) Ivan Rodriguez: A thirteen time Gold Glove winner and fourteen time All Star, Rodriguez won the 1999 American League MVP award.  Catching 2,427 games in 21 seasons from 1991-2011, primarily for the Rangers and Tigers, he threw out 46% of runners attempting to steal and is credited with saving 167 runs in his career. Rodriguez batted .296 with 311 home runs and 1,332 RBI’s.


2) Johnny Bench: Winner of ten Gold Gloves and a fourteen time All Star, Bench won the National League MVP award in 1970 and 1972. Catching 1,742 games in 17 seasons for the Reds, he threw out 43% of basestealers and also saved 97 runs in his career. Bench’s career marks include a .267 average, 389 home runs, and 1,376 RBI’s.


1) Yogi Berra:  Selected to the All Star team 15 times, Berra won the American League MVP award in 1951, 1954, and 1955. He caught 1,699 games in 19 seasons and threw out 49% of basestealers to go along with a .285 career batting average, 358 home runs, and 1,430 RBI’s.