3. Gene Washington (1967)
The Vikings used the eighth pick in the 1967 draft to select Gene Washington from Michigan State. He was the first wide receiver selected that year. In the second round, the Vikings selected another wide receiver, Bob Grim with the 28th overall pick.
As a rookie, Washington started four games and finished the season with only 13 receptions for 384 yards and two touchdowns, but his 29.5 yards per catch led the Vikings that season. In 1968, Red Phillips NFL career ended and Washington stepped in starting every game over the next three seasons. In each of those seasons, Washington led the Vikings in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1969 and 1970 and named First-Team, All-Pro in 1969. During the 1969 season, he caught only 39 passes but averaged 21.1 yards per catch for 821 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns.
Washington played six seasons with the Vikings before finishing his career with the Denver Broncos in 1973. In his seven seasons, Washington finished with 182 receptions, 3,237 yards, and 26 touchdowns.
In 2011, he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame.
In 2010, Washington was included as one of the 50 greatest Vikings in celebration of the team’s 50th year in the NFL.