NFL

StaTuesday: Best Vikings draft picks ever

There is no tried and true method in determining the best NFL players.

But pro-football-reference.com has one scientific option: Approximate Value.

Is this a perfect way to determine, say the best all-time draft picks for a certain team? Maybe, maybe not, but it seems like a decent way to go. There are flaws to this methodology, such it really begins in 1960 and perhaps you don't agree with the computations. For more on the Approximate Value you can read much more about it here.

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For our purposes, we're going to use Weighted Career Approximate Value (described as "100% of the player's best season, plus 95% of his 2nd-best season, plus 90% of his 3rd-best season, plus 85% of his 4th-best season" and so on).

To determine the best draft picks in Minnesota Vikings history, we ordered it by the Approximate Value only for when that player appeared in a Vikings uniform. For example, Fran Tarkenton was drafted by Minnesota but also played for the New York Giants. You'll see in the chart below both Tarkenton's Career AV but also his Vikings AV. This also eliminates someone like Bobby Bell, who was selected by Minnesota in the second round of the 1963 NFL Draft and has the highest Career AV of any player ever draft by the Vikings but who chose to sign with the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs (and never played a down for Minnesota).

So, with that out of the way, here are the top draft picks in Vikings history, according to their time spent playing for Minnesota:

Player Pos Year Rd Pick CarAv DrAv
Carl Eller DE 1964 1 6 123 123
Alan Page DT 1967 1 15 135 120
Randall McDaniel G 1988 1 19 119 111
Ron Yary T 1968 1 1 97 96
Kevin Williams DT 2003 1 9 99 95
Fran Tarkenton QB 1961 3 29 149 88
Adrian Peterson RB 2007 1 7 88 88
Chris Doleman DE 1985 1 4 114 87
Daunte Culpepper QB 1999 1 11 86 81
Chuck Foreman RB 1973 1 12 82 80
Roy Winston LB 1962 4 45 80 80
Randy Moss WR 1998 1 21 123 79
Matt Blair LB 1974 2 51 72 72
Joey Browner DB 1983 1 19 72 72
Bobby Bryant DB 1967 7 167 71 71

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the players above were taken in the first round. The good: Minnesota has hit on a lot of its top picks. The bad: The Vikings don't have a good history of finding gems later in the draft.

Minnesota did get a find in Tarkenton, though, who is the best third-round pick in NFL history, at least according to Weighted Approximate Value.

For reference, here are the top picks in each round from 1-7, with anyone from round 8 or on (the NFL moved to a seven-round draft in 1994) included in one batch. Since quarterbacks are more likely to have a higher value, we've included the top non-QB as well, when applicable. Also, when an AFL player was the highest-rated, we've also included the highest NFL-rated draft pick in that round.

Round -- Player, AV

1 -- Peyton Manning, 177; Ray Lewis, 160
2 -- Brett Favre, 156; Mike Singletary, 121
3 -- Tarkenton, 149; Terrell Owens & Jason Taylor, 119
4 -- Jahri Evans, 108
5 -- Tarkenton (AFL); Zach Thomas, 118
6 -- Tom Brady, 164; Greg Lloyd, 93
7 -- Bobby Bell (AFL), 103; Tom Nalen, 102
8-plus -- Johnny Unitas, 9th round, 114; Paul Krause, 12th round, 113

Here's the top-five picks by the Vikings in every round since their inception, using Career AV rather than the AV just with the player's time in Minnesota:

First Round

Player Pos Year Pick CarAv DrAv
Alan Page DT 1967 15 135 120
Carl Eller DE 1964 6 123 123
Randy Moss WR 1998 21 123 79
Randall McDaniel G 1988 19 119 111
Chris Doleman DE 1985 4 114 87

Second Round

Player Pos Year Pick CarAv DrAv
Bobby Bell LB 1963 16 163 0
Ed White G 1969 39 87 28
Matt Blair LB 1974 51 72 72
Lance Rentzel WR 1965 23 55 1
Fred Robbins DT 2000 55 52 9
Sammy White WR 1876 54 52 52

Third Round

Player Pos Year Pick CarAv DrAv
Fran Tarkenton QB 1961 29 149 88
Henry Thomas DT 1987 72 83 53
Tim Irwin T 1981 74 68 67
Kirk Lowdermilk C 1985 59 57 31
Jake Reed WR 1991 68 53 49

Fourth Round

Player Pos Year Pick CarAv DrAv
Roy Winston LB 1962 45 80 80
Joe Phillips NT 1986 93 56 1
Tom Keating DT 1964 53 50 0
Paul Flatley WR 1963 44 47 31
Brian Robison DE 2007 102 43 43

Fifth Round

Player Pos Year Pick CarAv DrAv
Ed Sharockman DB 1961 57 64 64
Ed McDaniel LB 1992 125 49 49
Tony Williams DT 1997 151 33 15
Hassan Jones WR 1993 120 32 31
John Kirby LB 1964 62 29 25

Sixth Round

Player Pos Year Pick CarAv DrAv
Matt Birk C 1998 173 84 65
John Sullivan C 2008 187 43 41
Larry Bowie G 1962 73 33 33
Steve Bono QB 1985 142 32 0
Brandon Fusco C 2011 172 28 28

Seventh Round

Player Pos Year Pick CarAv DrAv
Bobby Bryant DB 1967 167 71 71
Carl Lee DB 1983 186 67 66
Steve Jordan TE 1982 179 48 48
Jason Fisk DT 1995 243 47 6
Oscar Reed RB 1968 167 26 26

Eighth Round Plus

Player Pos Year Rd Pick CarAv DrAv
Jerry Mays DE 1961 11 141 81 0
Brad Johnson QB 1992 9 227 74 24
Scott Studwell LB 1977 9 250 70 70
Terry Allen RB 1990 9 241 61 23
Brian Habib G 1988 10 264 60 11

Among active Vikings, Robison could obviously still move up among the fourth-rounders but he also should be aware that Everson Griffen (37 AV) could pass him up soon, too.

Players like Anthony Barr (25), Xavier Rhodes (22), Kyle Rudolph (22) and Harrison Smith (30) have a long way to go to reach their respective top-fives (all were first-round selections, with the exception of Rudolph, a second-rounder).