Minnesota Vikings All-Time Starting Defensive Team

Tim ArcandCorrespondent IJanuary 20, 2011

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Starting Defensive Team

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    The Minnesota Vikings announced the addition of Mike Singletary to coaching staff.

    The Hall of Fame linebacker for the Chicago Bears joins the staff to coach the linebackers and serve as assistant head coach to Leslie Frazier.

    Singletary brings instant recognition to the coaching staff as a fearsome and intense linebacker from his playing days in Chicago. He replaces Fred Pagac (who?) who has been promoted from linebacker coach to defensive coordinator.

    Here's hoping the reunion of Frazier and Singletary will be able to elevate the defense to a level like that of the 1985 Bears—or like those directed under Vikings' defensive coordinators Buddy Ryan in the 70's or Tony Dungy in the 90's.

    I looked back over the history of the Minnesota Vikings and put together the all-time starting defensive team.

    There were some very obvious choices that even casual Vikings fans can agree with, but after the few obvious choices it got a little tougher. The lack of good statistics from the early years made it difficult.

    Longevity with the Vikings was a major factor, so those players whose tenure approached a decade were given much consideration.

    Here's the Minnesota Vikings All-Time Starting Defensive Team—let the debate begin.

Honorable Mention: Right Defensive End: Jared Allen

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    In only three years Jared Allen has made his mark with the Minnesota Vikings.

    He has started all 48 games he's played in purple, and has three interceptions and four fumble recoveries, returning one each for a touchdown.

    With at least 11 sacks in each of his three seasons in Minnesota if he can continue to dominate over the next five to seven years he will be shoe-in to crack the starting line up of the Vikings All-Time Defensive Team.

It All Starts Up Front—Minnesota Vikings All-Time Left Defensive End: Carl Eller

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    Carl Eller was a first-round draft choice in 1964—twice.

    The University of Minnesota product was selected fifth overall by the Buffalo Bills in the AFL and sixth overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL.

    He played 15 of his 16 years in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings.

    Over the 15 years with Minnesota he would play in 209 of 210 regular season games, starting 201 of them.

    A member of the Purple People Eaters, Eller played in all four of the Vikings' Super Bowls appearances. 

    After 15 years with Minnesota the Vikings would trade Eller to the Seattle Seahawks for an eighth round pick before the 1979 season.

    Following the '79 season, at the age of 37, he would retire from football.

    Eller was selected to six Pro Bowls making the trip to Hawaii every year from 1969 to 1974 with the exception of 1972.

    He was elected into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2004.  

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Defensive Tackle: Alan Page

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    Alan Page played 11 and a half seasons for the Minnesota Vikings from 1967 through six games in 1978. During that time he would not miss a single game, starting 157 of 160 games for the Vikings.  

    Another member of the Purple People Eaters, Page was named to nine consecutive Pro Bowls from 1968 to 1976.

    By today's standards for a defensive tackle, the six foot-four Page played very light at 245 pounds.

    In 1971 Page was named the NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year, as well as NFL AP Most Valuable Player—the first defensive player ever named NFL MVP.

    After six games in 1978 Page would join the Chicago Bears where he would finish out his career.

    He retired following the 1981 season and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Defensive Tackle: John Randle

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    John Randle would join the Vikings as an undrafted free agent prior to the 1990 season.

    At 6'1", Randle was thought to be too small to make it in the NFL as a defensive lineman.

    In 1990, his rookie season, although he would not start, he would play in all 16 games.

    Over 14 seasons with the Vikings Randle would play in every game, starting 150 of 176 games.

    By 1992 he was a regular on the Vikings defensive line. Randle was a tenacious lineman who was was known for his face paint and unceasing heckling of the opposition.

    Randle would record double digit sacks during eight different seasons, including a career-high and league-leading 15.5 sacks in 1997.

    He would play in six straight Pro Bowl as a Viking from 1993 to 1998 and be named First-Team All-Pro each year.

    Like Carl Eller, Randle would finish his career with the Seattle Seahawks signing with the team for the 2001 season.  

    Randle retired following the 2003 season and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Defensive End: Jim Marshall

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    Jim Marshall played 19 of his 20 years in Minnesota starting 270 games—every Vikings game from 1961 to 1978.

    Like Carl Eller and Alan Page, Marshall was a member of the Purple People Eaters that dominated offensive lines in late 60's to the mid 70's.

    His 29 fumble recoveries are the most of any Vikings defender in team history.

    Marshall was selected to 1968 and 1969 Pro Bowls. He retired following the 1978 season and is the only lineman on the Minnesota Vikings All-Time Defensive Team not elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

    One of the most embarrassing moments in sports history: In 1964, during the fourth quarter of a game against the 49ers in San Francisco, Marshall would recover a fumble and return it 66 yards the wrong way, scoring a safety for the 49ers. At the time it made the score  27-19, a game the Vikings would win 27-22. 

    For his career he would start in 282 straight games. It was the most in NFL history when he retired in 1979.

    Marshall's record would stand for 22 seasons until Bruce Matthews would surpass the mark during the 2001 season. Since then Jerry Rice and Brett Favre have almost passed Marshall who is currently fourth on the all-time list of consecutive starts.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Outside Linebacker: Matt Blair

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    Matt Blair played his entire 12-year career with the Vikings. He played in 160 games, starting 130.

    As a rookie in 1974 Blair would play in all 14 games, starting six of them.

    The Vikings would finish with a 10-4 record that season, and with play-off wins over the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, would earn their third trip to the Super Bowl.

    Blair leads all Vikings linebackers with 16 career interceptions.

    From 1977 to 1982 he would be named to six consecutive Pro Bowls. 

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Middle Linebacker: Scott Studwell

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    Scott Studwell was the Vikings' ninth round draft choice in 1977. The 250th player selected, Studwell played in every games that season and started three of them.

    Studwell would play 14 years in the NFL, all of them with Minnesota and finish his career playing in 201 games retiring in 1990. He is the only Viking to have played with both Jim Marshall (1961-1979) and John Randle (1990-2000).

    He would earn consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl in 1987 and 1988.

    For his career he would have 11 interceptions and recover 16 fumbles.

    In 2002 Studwell became the Vikings Director of College Scouting.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Outside Linebacker: Roy Winston

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    Roy Winston played his entire 15-year career with the Minnesota Vikings.

    In 1962 he was a sixth round draft choice of the San Diego Chargers in the AFL and a fourth round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings. 

    In his second year with the Vikings he was the starting outside linebacker. For his career he would start 158 games. 

    His 12 interceptions are the second most among Vikings linebackers behind Matt Blair.

    Winston's three defensive touchdowns are tied for the second most in Vikings history. He had an interception and two fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Right Corner Back: Bobby Bryant

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    Bobby Bryant was selected in the seventh round of the 1967 NFL draft.

    He would make his debut with the Vikings in 1968, playing all 14 games mostly as a special teams player returning punts and kickoffs. He would have two interceptions that season, returning one for a touchdown.

    In his 13-year career with Minnesota Bryant would intercept 51 passes—second most in Vikings history.

    He would score a total of four defensive touchdowns with three interceptions and one fumble recover. His four total defensive touchdowns ties him for the team lead.

    Due to injuries, Bryant would play in only 161 of a possible 188 regular season games, starting 121 of them.

    A member of the all four Vikings Super Bowl teams, he would start in two of them—in 1973 and 1976.

    In 1974 he would be limited to a single game, missing most of the Vikings third Super Bowl season. 

    The next two seasons he would be named to back-to-back Pro Bowls.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Free Safety: Paul Krause

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    Paul Krause was traded to the Vikings in 1968 after playing four years with the Washington Redskins.

    In his 12-year Minnesota career he would play in all 172 regular season games, starting 146 of them.

    His four defensive touchdowns is tied for the most in Vikings history.

    From his rookie season in Washington, when he intercepted a league high 12 passes, it was obvious Krause had a nose for the ball.

    He not only leads the Vikings with 53 interceptions, but his career total of 81 stands as the high-water mark in the history of the NFL. Currently, Darren Sharper is the closest active player with 63 picks. 

    Krause would retire in 1979 at the age of 37 after playing 16 seasons in the NFL. In 1998 he was was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Strong Safety: Joey Browner

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    Joey Browner was a first round draft choice by the Vikings in 1983.

    An outstanding special teams player, Browner made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 1985 as a special teams player. 

    In 1985 he would also become the Vikings starting strong safety. In nine years with Minnesota he would intercept 37 passes—fourth on the Vikings all time interception list.

    Browner would be named to six consecutive Pro Bowls form 1985 to 1990, and First Team All-Pro in 1987, 1988, and 1990.

    He was a hard hitting safety would great recovery speed, and a fierce tackler.

    His four defensive touchdowns ties him for the team lead with Paul Krause, Bobby Bryant, and Antoine Winfield.

    His 17 fumble recoveries are fifth most among Minnesota defenders.

    Following the 1991 season, Browner would leave the Vikings finishing his career playing one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Left Corner Back: Carl Lee

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    A seventh-round draft pick in 1983 Carl Lee would start three games that season finishing with one interception.

    In 1984 he would start 14 games at free safety before moving to corner back in 1985.

    Over the next nine years he would start 127 games at corner back and finish with 31 interceptions, good for sixth place all time in franchise history.

    In 1988 he would be named First-Team All-Pro and make his first of three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.

    His career in Minnesota would span 11 seasons, starting 144 of 169 games he played in.

    In 1994 he joined the New Orleans Saints and retired following the season.

Minnesota Vikings All-Time Third Corner Back

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    Antoine Winfield is the only current Vikings' player to make the list.

    Winfield has least tenure among the All-Time Team with only seven seasons in Minnesota.

    His 17 interceptions ranks 12th all time for the Vikings. He is tied Paul Krause and Joey Browner with four defensive touchdowns.

    A sure tackler, Winfield has been recognized with consecutive Pro-Bowl appearances in 2008 and 2009.

    Against the Michael Vick led Philadelphia Eagles this past season, he showed just how effective of an defender he remains after 12 years in the NFL. In the game at Philadelphia, he recorded two sacks and forced a  fumble,  recovering it and returning it for a touchdown.

    In six games as the Vikings Defensive coordinator, Fred Pagac had a tendency to play a blitzing, aggressive style of defense. After missing six games in 2009 due to injuries, hopefully Winfield will be able to continue to contribute at a Pro-Bowl level for at least another two to four years.