Jul 26, 2013; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings helmet sits in the grass during training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Continuing our series of draft revisits, we take a look at 1963, the third year of the Vikings’ franchise.
Where they were…
The Vikings went a dismal 2-11-1 under head coach Norm Van Brocklin in 1962, despite having already accumulated much of the talent that would later make up the core of several Super Bowl teams.
Clearly, the Vikings would need more than on-field talent to rise as an NFL power. They would need a new man at the helm.
What was happening…
The #1 movie of 1963 was the super-epic Cleopatra. The #1 song was Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. The #1 TV show was The Beverly Hillbillies. The year’s most earth shattering historical development was the assassination of president John F. Kennedy.
Who they drafted…
With the #3 overall pick in the 1963 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected defensive tackle Jim Dunaway from Mississippi.
The 6-4, 277 pound Dunaway would have a productive professional football career…but not with the Vikings.
Dunaway was also drafted by the AFL Buffalo Bills in the second round and would elect to sign with them instead of Minnesota. He would spend nine years with the Bills, earning AFL all-star honors four times.
The Vikings could have drafted Faye Dunaway, and they would’ve gotten as much as Jim Dunaway ever gave them.
Who they should have drafted…
For the second straight year, the Vikings failed to sign their top draft pick (in 1962, at least they had the sense to trade off their high first round pick rather than take the chance; the trade yielded a whole cornucopia of players including future star Jim Marshall).
Had the Vikings gone with a different defensive player than Dunaway, perhaps they would have landed a future Pro Bowler instead of coming up empty.
What if, instead of taking Dunaway, the Vikings had drafted Alabama linebacker Lee Roy Jordan?
A protege of the great Bear Bryant, Jordan was taken by the Dallas Cowboys with the sixth overall pick. Jordan would develop into a defensive star in Dallas, going to five Pro Bowls, earning 1 AP All-Pro first team selection and, in 1973, winning NFL 101’s NFC defensive player of the year.
Jordan would spend 14 years with the Cowboys, retiring with 36 interceptions and a Super Bowl ring, and going on to be inducted into the Cowboys ring of honor.
Instead of a guy who never played a snap for the team, the Vikings could have had one of the best linebackers of the era, a guy who might have played for them for fifteen years.
Assuming he actually signed with them. That’s a factor you can’t overlook in the early drafts.
Just imagine if you drafted someone third overall and didn’t even know if he would sign, because there was this other league with an equal, or in some circumstances greater, shot at him?
You think the draft process is crazy now.
Past entries in the series: