There was much debate going into this year’s draft over which position the Vikings should address. Some said we needed a tackle worse than anything, others argued we had to take a cornerback, a few advocated for a center or even a quarterback.
Quite a few focused in on the wide receiver position, which had been a Viking thin spot for years, and targeted Florida’s Percy Harvin as the man to select.
Those in favor of Harvin pointed out his great speed, shiftiness and versatility. Those opposed mentioned Harvin’s failed drug test at the combine, rumors of bad behavior at college and a history of injuries.
The Vikings brain trust, as it turned out, had Harvin on their radar screens from early on. Hoping to assuage his doubts about Harvin’s character, Brad Childress ventured to Florida to speak to coach Urban Meyer, and sat down with Percy and his family.
Whatever those folks said to Childress must’ve calmed his worries, because when draft day rolled around, the Vikings took Harvin with the 22nd overall pick.
The selection irritated those who thought Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher was the perfect guy to lock down the right tackle position, which had been troublesome since the days of Korey Stringer, and annoyed those who thought Kenny Britt or Hakeem Nicks would be a better fit for the Vikings’ offense.
In the end, Brad Childress would be vindicated.
From early in the season, it became clear that Percy Harvin was a special player. He gave the Vikings’ special teams an immediate infusion of excitement with his long returns, and as a slot receiver, he proved not only his quickness but his fearlessness in going over the middle. The doubters quickly found themselves falling in love with Percy, as did his new quarterback, the legendary Brett Favre.
Not that everything went perfectly smoothly with Harvin. Two much-publicized preseason incidents, both involving vomit, cast the rookie’s health and attitude in doubt. And, during the season, several migraine headache episodes, including one that forced Harvin to miss some game-time, prompted some to question Harvin’s prospects for a long, fruitful career.
The in-game performance, however, cannot be questioned. Harvin developed a quick chemistry with Favre, becoming #4’s favorite target in third-down situations, and his shifty moves and surprising physicality soon earned him the respect of many a failed tackler.
Now, for his contributions to the return game and passing attack of the 12-4 Vikings, Harvin has been selected as the Associated Press’s offensive rookie of the year, ahead of Michael Oher, Jeremy Maclin, Knowshon Moreno and Mike Wallace.
Not that Viking fans needed anymore proof of Harvin’s brilliance.
It remains to be seen if the Vikings will receive the ultimate vindication for their various moves the last few years – a Super Bowl ring – but at least, in the short term, it appears they made the right choice with Harvin.