Tommy Kramer image courtesy of: projects.ajc.com
This was a tough list, but here are some more players that were not included in the great list of first round selections by the Vikings.
1974: Fred McNeil, LB, UCLA
No. 17 overall, what a great player for the Vikings; often overshadowed by Matt Blair who was selected in Round 2. McNeil played his entire 12-year career with the Vikings.
1974: Steve Riley, T, USC
No. 25 overall, I told you, the Vikings have had great luck with USC tackles. Riley played 11 years, all of them with the Vikings. He was never selected to the Pro Bowl but certainly lands in good company as prominent left tackles for the Vikings—such as Gary Zimmerman, Grady Alderman, Todd Steussie, Tim Irwin and Bryant McKinnie.
1977: Tommy Kramer, QB, Rice
From 1977-1989, Kramer was under center for the Vikings. If there was a player to eventually replace Fran Tarkenton, Kramer was the guy. He played 12 years for the Vikings. He was not a great QB, but was very solid. His famous touchdown toss to Ahmad Rashad against the Browns in 1980 is the stuff of legends. His nickname was Two-Minute Tommy.
Following the 1986 season, Kramer was selected to the Pro Bowl in which he was the highest-rated quarterback in the NFL. Kramer was the first NFL quarterback to throw for over 450 yards in a game twice, and he once threw six touchdowns in a single game versus the Packers.
Some information, courtesy of wikipedia.com
For Kramer, it was more about injuries that kept his numbers down, otherwise, he could have put up some pretty impressive numbers.
1984: Keith Millard, DT, Washington State
Even though Alan Page had been gone from the Vikings since 1978, Millard came in and was brash, outspoken and backed it up. He played from 1985-1991 and finished his career in somewhat ignominious fashion, playing for three other teams before finally calling it quits in 1993.
Millard, along with Chris Doleman, brought back images of the days of Page and Eller or Page and Marshall. As a defensive tackle in 93 games, he had 58 sacks. In 1989, he set an NFL record 18 sacks from the DT position—a record yet to be broken. He played in two Pro Bowls, but after the 1989 season, he suffered a horrible knee injury and was never the same player. That damned Metrodome turf.
1999: Daunte Culpepper, QB, Central Florida
Of course, there will be arguments here as to whether Culpepper was really as talented as some thought or if he benefited from Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Jake Reed as his receivers, not to mention Robert Smith.
In the seven years that Culpepper played for the Vikings, he threw for more than 20,000 yards, 135 TDs and 86 INTs. Of course, Culpepper was known for his running ability, which ironically cut his career short when he suffered a torn ACL in 2005.
2006: Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa
Greenway has his critics, and since he was the No. 16 overall pick, some of that criticism is warranted, but one thing Greenway has been is solid. I don’t know if people expected him to come in and be the next big thing at OLB.
Greenway has quietly led the team in tackles in three of his six years. Given that he did not play in 2006, he has over 600 tackles in five playing seasons.
Some may consider Greenway to be a mild disappointment. I consider him in a long line of Vikings LBs being dismissed by NFL Pro Bowl voting. Greenway finally made the Pro Bowl this past year, long overdue.
2011: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Simply put, this is an important one folks. Hopefully in about 10 years, we can easily place Ponder’s name on the list of wise, solid, first-round choices in franchise history. Or will he join the likes of Demetrius Underwood and Derrick Alexander? I sure hope not.