Like every other team in the National Football League, the Minnesota Vikings have had some very good drafts over the course of their history and drafted some very promising players. Every year, the Vikings generally get someone that contributes to the good of the team over the long term. In other years, the class is not so good, but the team usually gets at least a contributor out of it.
Then. . .there was the Class of 2005.
On the first day of the 2005 league year, then-owner Red McCombs angered pretty much every Vikings fan in America by shipping mercurial star receiver Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2005 Draft (the seventh overall selection) and a seventh-round pick. Immediately, the speculation was that the Vikings "needed" to replace Moss in order to make their offense go again. That's exactly what they did. . .or attempted to do. . .and that kicked off what is the worst draft in the history of the franchise. Let's review. . .if you have the stomach to continue.
The Vikings started that draft by tabbing South Carolina's Troy Williamson as their "Moss replacement." Yes, Williamson certainly had Moss' speed, that can't be argued. However, Williamson lacked a certain special quality that is key for an NFL wide receiver, namely the ability to catch the football when it's thrown in his direction. In three seasons with Minnesota, Williamson caught just 79 passes for just barely over 1,000 yards and three touchdowns. What follows is the lasting image everyone has of the Troy Williamson era, coming in his final game with the team.
Williamson was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to the 2008 season in exchange for a sixth-round draft choice.
With the Vikings' own pick in the first round, number 18 overall, they took defensive end Erasmus James out of the University of Wisconsin. The team hopes that he would be the answer to their pass-rushing problems, and he looked good as a rookie, notching four sacks in his first year. Unfortunately, in the two years that followed, he played just eight total games, collecting one sack, and was dealt to the Washington Redskins for a conditional seventh-round choice.
How did the rest of that Vikings' draft class look? Here's the rundown:
-Marcus Johnson, OL, Mississippi (second round, #49 overall) - Stuck for a few years, never did a whole lot for the team, wound up not re-signing with the team after his rookie contract expired.
-Dustin Fox, DB, Ohio State (third round, #80 overall) - Broke his arm during his rookie training camp and went on injured reserve, failed to make the team in 2006
-Ciatrick Fason, RB, Florida (fourth round, #112 overall) - Averaged 3.2 yards per carry in two seasons with the team, cut prior to the 2007 season
-C.J. Mosley, DT, Missouri (sixth round, #191 overall) - Showed a little bit of promise with the Vikings. . .so, naturally, he was dealt to the New York Jets for future UFL Most Valuable Player Brooks Bollinger after his rookie year
-Adrian Ward, DB, Texas-El Paso (seventh round, #219 overall) - The other pick the Vikings got from the Moss trade, Ward didn't even make the first round of cuts in his initial NFL training camp
The Vikings drafted those seven players in 2005 and, by the 2008 season, none of them were on the team. To this day, only Mosley is still kicking around the NFL, with the other six players being completely out of the league.
The Vikings' 2012 draft class will, most assuredly, be better than their 2005 draft class. And I can say that with all confidence because, honestly, it certainly can't get any worse.