The Vikings may have finished their 2020 campaign at a disappointing 7-9, but that doesn’t matter anymore. It’s time to get excited for the 2021 NFL Draft! Minnesota holds a whopping 11 draft picks at this point, including the 14th overall pick. While it may not be as exciting as a top five position, plenty of great players have come out of this spot. Here’s an overview of the Vikings’ and NFL’s history of drafting at 14.
Minnesota’s Small Sample Size
The Vikings’ history of drafting in the 14th spot is underwhelming, but it just hasn’t happened very often. In the Vikings’ 60-year history, they’ve had the 14th overall pick twice. They came in back-to-back years back in 1986 and 1987. With those two picks, they drafted defensive end Gerald Robinson in ‘86 and running back D.J. Dozier in ‘87.
Robinson was a very promising prospect coming out of Auburn. He still holds the school’s all-time sack record, recording 26 over his four seasons. He also tallied 10 during his senior season in 1985. The Vikings traded down from their number eight pick to 14 and picked him up.
This proved to be a terrible mistake in the end. San Diego got Leslie O’Neal at eight, who recorded double-digit sacks in eight of his 13 seasons. Robinson on the other hand? Well, he played just two seasons (1986-87) and 16 total games for the Vikings. He recorded 3.5 sacks in those games. After sitting out the 1988 season, Robinson moved on to play for, ironically enough, the San Diego Chargers in 1989.
Dozier was another disappointment. The Vikings traded up two spots in the 1987 Draft to take the RB, and there was a lot of hype around him. This was due to his appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1985 and his game-winning touchdown in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl National Championship. In his four years with the Vikings, though, he rushed for 643 yards and seven touchdowns.
The NFL’s Good
While the Vikings don’t have a great history with the 14th overall pick (or much of any history), there have been some good players that have come out of this spot. One of the most notable picks from history is Bills’ legend, Jim Kelly. We all know the story of those ‘90s Bills teams that made four straight Super Bowls without winning a single one. However, I would be shocked if the Vikings picked a quarterback with this pick, so that is all the time I will spend on Kelly. Here’s a few more recent players that have come out of the 14th spot.
CB Kyle Fuller
The Vikings spent a lot of draft capital last season on their secondary, but it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they tried to add more depth to the unit. In 2014, Kyle Fuller was picked by the Chicago Bears with the 14th pick to add depth to a promising, yet young and struggling secondary. He has developed into one of the best CBs in the league, and the Bears defense has been formidable since he joined the team. Patrick Surtain II will probably be taken in this area of the draft, so could the Vikings find themselves in a position to add another young, promising CB alongside Gladney and Dantzler?
WR Davante Parker
Minnesota has a great receiving corps with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, but a solid WR3 to take some pressure off these two would devastate defenses. DeVante Parker has really come into his own the past couple seasons after struggling to find opportunities in his first few years. In 2019, Parker topped 1200 yards and had nine touchdowns. While it is unlikely that Alabama’s DeVonta Smith will fall to them, they could consider another Bama player, Jaylen Waddle, or Jefferson’s former teammate at LSU, Terrace Marshall Jr.
S Earl Thomas
Sunday was most likely the last time Anthony Harris will suit up for the Vikings, and it may be good riddance for Vikings fans after watching him miss tackles and coverages for much of the afternoon. This leaves a void at the safety position alongside Harrison Smith, so there’s a possibility that Minnesota addresses it in the draft.
Earl Thomas was taken from the 14th spot in 2010, and he was one of the backbones of the Legion of Boom era in Seattle. In his illustrious ten year career, Thomas has recorded 30 INTs, forced 12 fumbles, and recorded 713 total tackles. Not to mention, there are a few other legends that have been found with the 14th pick, including Malcolm Jenkins and Darrelle Revis. Could the Vikings find another gem in someone like Syracuse’s Andre Cisco?
The NFL’s Bad
Obviously the Vikings two picks at no. 14 have been historically a couple of the worst picks. However, there have been a few recent players picked that are already looking bad. Hopefully the Vikings will be able to avoid them, but these picks will always remind people that draft position never guarantees production.
DE Marcus Davenport
The Vikings pass-rush was one of the most glaring issues of 2020. On the bright side, they will have Danielle Hunter returning in 2021, but it would help if they could find him some help from the opposite side of the line.
The Saints were also trying to find help for Cameron Jordan when they picked Marcus Davenport in 2017. However, he has not progressed nearly as well as they had hoped. Through three seasons, he has spent just one as the starter and recorded a mere 1.5 sacks in 11 games during 2020. If the Vikings elect to pick a DE like (if he falls this far) Gregory Rousseau, hopefully he doesn’t turn into another version of Davenport.
T Chris Williams
Another problem with this Vikings team was the offensive line. They could not keep defenders out of the backfield; Kirk Cousins was running for his life far too often. Minnesota could also try and get out of Riley Reiff’s contract during the offseason which opens up another position along the line.
When Chris Williams entered the draft out of Vanderbilt in 2008, he was heralded as one of the best pass protectors in the class. He was coming off brilliant sophomore and junior seasons where he was named to All-SEC teams and allowed just two sacks over 24 total games. While Williams’ talent speaks for itself, he never truly found a long term role in the NFL. This was in most part due to injuries that derailed any momentum he gained on teams. The Vikings may opt to pick Alijah Vera-Tucker or Rashawn Slater, and hopefully they do not struggle with injuries like Williams did.