The Minnesota Vikings have drafted a number of great players during their 54 year history. They have also drafted a number of disappointed players as well. Before we get to the five biggest draft bust in Vikings history, here are some names that narrowly missed the top five.
5. Christian Ponder, quarterback, 2011, 12th overall
After Brett Favre’s retirement after the 2010 season, it was clear the Vikings were looking for their quarterback of the future. After quarterbacks Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert were already selected in 2011 NFL Draft, the team panic and reached for Ponder with the 12th overall pick.
Many draft experts projected Ponder as a second-round pick and the way Ponder has played during his three seasons in the NFL, that might have even been a reach. Ponder has 38 touchdowns, 34 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 77.3 during his three season in the league.
Andy Dalton, who was drafted 23 spots after Ponder in the second round has thrown for 11,360 yards and 80 touchdowns during the same time span. The Vikings also could have selected Colin Kaepernick, who was selected a pick after Dalton in the second round by the San Francisco 49ers. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the Vikings will again be looking for their quarterback of the future during the 2014 NFL Draft.
4. Derrick Alexander, defensive end, 1995, 11th overall
Alexander doesn’t make the list necessarily because he was that bad of a player. He is on the list because of the players the Vikings could have drafted instead of him. Minnesota acquired the 11th overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft as part of the trade that sent Hall of Fame defensive end Chris Doleman to the Atlanta Falcons.
Bronko Nagurski Award Winner and University of Miami defensive tackle Warren Sapp went from a sure fire top five draft pick to falling out of the top 10 entirely because of rumors of drug use and character issues. Instead of drafting Sapp, head coach Dennis Green selected Alexander and the rest is history.
Sapp went on to have a Hall of Fame career as he finished second to John Randle in all-time sacks for a defensive tackle. In four seasons with Minnesota, Alexander recorded just 18 sacks. After leaving Minnesota in 1999, he would play jusy one more season for the Cleveland Browns before retiring in 2000. The Vikings not only could have selected Sapp, they also could have drafted Hugh Douglas, who was named the 1995 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
3. D.J. Dozier, running back, 1987, 14th overall.
Dozier was the first of many running backs from Penn State that later became NFL draft busts. In his four seasons playing for the Vikings, Dozier had total of nine touchdowns, all coming in his first two seasons. He rushed for 643 yards during his four years with the club.
Dozier was released by the Vikings after the 1990 season and played in the NFL just one more season for the Detroit Lions before trying his hand at baseball. Even though he wasn’t great at that either, Dozier did make it the major leagues with the New York Mets in 1992. He hit.191 while striking out 19 times in 47 at-bats.
2. Troy Williamson, wide receiver, 2005, 7th overall
The Vikings traded Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders during the 2005 offseason for linebacker Napoleon Harris and Oakland’s first and seventh round picks. Williamson was selected with the seventh overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft. I don’t think anyone expected Williamson to be as good as Moss, but the Vikings didn’t expect him to be as bad as he was.
Williamson failed to make any impact with the team during his rookie season. The receiver from the University of South Carolina had 24 catches for 372 yards and two touchdowns. Williamson’s second season wasn’t much better as he caught 37 balls for 455 yards and had zero receiving touchdowns.
Williamson had amazing speed and could break away from defenders, but his problem was catching the football. He had 11 drop passes in 2006 and was later benched that season.
Williamson would spend a total of three seasons in Minnesota before he was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth round pick after the 2007 season. He would later go on to say he wanted to “duke it out” with Vikings coach Brad Childress.
After he joined the Jaguars, Williamson had a total of eight catches in his two years with the club. Jacksonville released Williamson on September 4, 2010. Williamson had a total of 87 receptions, 1,131 yards and four touchdowns during his five-year career.
1. Dimitrius Underwood, defensive end, 1999, 29th overall.
Michigan State coaches warned NFL scouts about drafting Underwood after he missed the entire 1998 season due to an injury and lack of commitment to football. Vikings coach at the time Dennis Green thought he could strike gold twice after selected Randy Moss the previous year after questions about Moss’ character dropped him down the draft board. Green wasn’t as lucky with Underwood.
The defensive end signed a five-year, $5.3 million contract with the Vikings on August 1, 1999, but walked out of training camp on the first day. He was later cut well before regular season after saying he couldn’t decide whether to play football or be a Christian.
Underwood later changed his mind, and the Miami Dolphins claimed him off waivers. After being arrested and attempting to commit suicide, the Dolphins released him.
The Dallas Cowboys signed him in 2000 to a two-year contract. In his two seasons in Dallas, Underwood had 21 tackles and four sacks with the team before trying to kill himself for the second time by running into traffic on a busy suburban highway in January 2001. The Cowboys released him later that month and Underwood hasn’t played in the NFL since.