Minnesota Vikings’ Epic First-Round Draft Picks Between 2012 and 2014

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The NFL Draft got underway on April 27th, and fans all over North America were salivating at the prospect of college football’s finest finally making their way into the professional game. Quarterback standouts such as Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson were all expected to be selected early on. Edge rushers such as Tyree Wilson and Will Anderson Jr. were also expected to impress.

Minnesota Vikings drafts from 2012-2014

Since the Vikings’ inception into the NFL in 1961, they have always strived to find the best players available during the exciting draft period. Over the years, they have had their share of difficulties, but one period stands out: from 2012 to 2014. During this time, the Vikings secured seven first-round picks, with six of them going on to become big-time contributors both in Minnesota and elsewhere.

The Super Six have all managed to secure Pro Bowl honors at some point in their career, racking up nineteen all-star game appearances between them. Unfortunately, the Vikings haven’t been given much hope for the upcoming campaign and Bovada’s future Super Bowl lines make them +4000 outsiders for the Lombardi next February. However, with a good NFL draft under their belt as well as a bit of luck, anything is possible.

Current manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would have done an excellent job if he managed to draft players as good as these six for the upcoming campaign.

Matt Kalil

In 2012, the Vikings selected offensive tackle, Matt Kalil, as the fourth overall pick in that year’s draft. He proved to be an instant contributor to the playing squad at U.S. Bank Stadium, forming part of the offensive line that led Adrian Peterson to 2,097 rushing yards – just nine yards shy of breaking the NFL record. Thanks to Kalil’s performance, he was selected to the Pro Bowl that season, becoming the first newcomer tackle from the Vikings to do so.

Harrison Smith

In the same draft, Minnesota selected safety, Harrison Smith, with their second first-round pick, selecting him as 29th overall. The former Notre Dame standout also had an early impact on his side’s defense, recording three interceptions and 104 tackles during his rookie season. Since then, he has become one of the best safeties in the league, earning Pro Bowl honors six times during his nine seasons in Minneapolis and securing a legendary status with the franchise.

Xavier Rhodes

The following year, the Vikings utilized their 25th overall pick to select cornerback, Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes became a dominant force during his tenure with the franchise, becoming known as one of the best press corners in the league. He was a key part of the defense that led the Vikings to the NFC North title in 2017 and was selected for Pro Bowl honors that term, as well as the year before and in 2019 before leaving for the Indianapolis Colts in 2020.

Cordarrelle Patterson

In 2013, the Purple People Eaters had three first-round picks for the first time in franchise history, and they used the second of those picks to select wide receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson was a versatile player, recording 856 receiving yards and four touchdowns during his rookie season. He also became an immediate star on special teams, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns which led him to twice winning the kickoff return yards leader award as well as securing a spot in the all-star game on four separate occasions.

Anthony Barr

The Vikings selected linebacker, Anthony Barr, with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft. Barr instantly became a key piece to his side’s defense, helping lead them to the playoffs that season for just the second time in six years. He was a Pro Bowl selection in four consecutive campaigns between 2015 and 2018 and he established himself as one of the best linebackers in the NFL during that time thanks to his speed, agility, and ability to read plays. His role in the Vikings’ defense went beyond just making tackles and his leadership qualities were just as valuable as his physical exploits and performances, despite his love/hate relationship with the home faithful.

Teddy Bridgewater

After selecting Barr as the ninth overall pick, the Minneapolis outfit used their final first-round pick in 2014 to select quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater had an up-and-down tenure with the Vikings, showing flashes of potential, but dealing with injuries that hindered his development. However, he did lead the Vikings to an improbable playoff appearance in his second season in the league. He too managed to secure Pro Bowl honors following the 2015 campaign, however, that was his only appearance in the all-star game and his career has since fizzled out.

Conclusion

The Minnesota Vikings’ first-round draft picks between 2012 and 2014 proved to be some of the best in their franchise’s history. From Matt Kalil to Teddy Bridgewater, these players helped shape the franchise into a competitive outfit and earned several Pro Bowl honors. Although some have gone their separate ways, their impact in Minnesota will always be remembered and fans can only hope that the Vikings’ future draft picks can emulate their success.