Moving on in our series of draft revisits, we take a look at 1964.
Where the Vikings were…
1963 saw the Vikings crawling toward respectability, but it would take more talent, and big changes at the top, for them to finally achieve relevance as a franchise.
1964 would be the beginning.
What was going on…
The top box office movie of 1964 was the James Bond flick Goldfinger. The #1 song was I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles. The highest rated TV show was The Beverly Hillbillies.
Who the Vikings drafted…
1964 was the year it all began for the Vikings. The first three years were dismal ones for the franchise in the standings, but the first pieces were slowly being put in place.
The process took off in 1964, but first the Vikings would need to add another significant chunk at the top of the draft.
The Vikings got great value in their first draft, 1961, taking Fran Tarkenton.
They traded away their first round pick in 1962, acquiring Jim Marshall. They also signed Mick Tingelhoff as an undrafted player.
1963 would be a bust for the Vikings as they failed to sign their top draft pick.
They hit big time in 1964, drafting future Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller sixth overall.
The former Gopher would go on to play 15 years for the Vikings, amassing six Pro Bowl selections, five All-Pro selections, one NFL defensive player of the year award and, oh yeah, four Super Bowl appearances.
Who they should have drafted…
I am not going to argue with the selection of Carl Eller in the first round. He is one of the true greats of Vikings history.
However, they could have done better in the second round.
I’m sure Hal Bedsole was a nice guy, but he was a wasted pick at 19th overall (remember that in those days wasting a second round pick was like wasting a second-half-of-the-first round pick nowadays).
What if, instead of blowing a pick on a tight end who would hang on for three years and do nothing, the Vikings had selected a wide receiver out of Florida A&M by the name of Bob Hayes?
Bullet Bob Hayes hung on until the 88th overall selection that year, finally going to the Dallas Cowboys.
What if instead of being taken by Dallas, Hayes had ended up in Minnesota and become the first great wide receiver in Vikings history?
With Dallas and San Francisco, the speedster Hayes would amass 7,414 receiving yards and 71 touchdowns. And a Super Bowl ring.
It’s true that Hayes’ great years were mostly behind him by the time the early ’70s rolled around, but maybe having Hayes on the roster would still have helped the Vikings get over the hump in one of those early Super Bowls.
They had the defense, but could never quite score enough points in the big game.
It’s worth noting, before we end here, that the Vikings almost ended up having a shot at Paul Krause in that 1964 draft. He was taken a pick before Minnesota at 18. Of course, a few years later the Vikes would get Krause anyway, trading a linebacker and a pick to Washington to acquire him.
And he would go on to a Hall of Fame career with Bud Grant and the Vikes.