Ranking every No. 11 overall draft pick in Minnesota Vikings history

Former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes
Former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes / Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings finished 7-10 during the 2023 season, which resulted in the franchise earning the 11th overall pick in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft.

If the Vikings end up remaining in the No. 11 spot in the opening round of his year's draft, it will be the fourth time in team history that the franchise has picked a player with the 11th overall selection in the draft.

The following is a ranking of the three No. 11 draft picks in Minnesota history, from worst to best.

Ranking every No. 11 overall draft pick in Minnesota Vikings history

3. Derrick Alexander - DE (1995)

In 1994, the Vikings went 10-6 and lost to the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Hoping to improve the team’s 13th-ranked defense, Minnesota took Derrick Alexander with the 11th overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. One pick later, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected former Miami Hurricanes defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

At Florida State, Alexander had been first-team All-ACC, ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 1994, a two-time All-American, and a National Champion in 1993. Those accolades led Minnesota to add him to a defensive line that John Randle anchored.

The 6-foot-4, 286-pound Alexander was expected to provide a killer pass rush for the Vikings. As a rookie in 1995, he started 12 games and netted 34 tackles and two sacks. In 1996, Alexander was limited to nine starts, but he improved his stats to 48 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Minnesota went 9-7 in 1997 and advanced to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, while Alexander had 51 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Then, in the Vikings' high-flying 15-1 season in 1998, the defensive end started all 16 games and tallied 42 tackles and a career-high 7.5 sacks.

During the 1999 offseason, Alexander signed with the re-born Cleveland Browns roster. That season as a Brown, Alexander had a career-best 53 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He retired after the year.

In four years as a Viking, Alexander had decent numbers, but he was nowhere near the talent Minnesota was hoping for. His 51 starts brought the organization 175 total tackles and just 17.5 sacks.

2. Trae Waynes - CB (2015)

Trae Waynes had some good moments in his time with the Vikings. He just never lived up to the expectations that came with being a first-round pick.

The year before he arrived, the Vikings went 7-9 during the 2014 season and had the 11th-best defense in the NFL. Still, the team’s secondary needed help, and that’s where Waynes came in.

During his collegiate career at Michigan State, the corner had 101 total tackles, four sacks, 13 pass breakups, and six interceptions. Waynes was a First-Team All-Big Ten in 2014 and helped the Spartans win the 2014 Rose Bowl and 2015 Cotton Bowl.

In his first year in the NFL, Waynes started only once. The following season, he started eight games and made 50 tackles while breaking up 11 passes and getting three picks. 2017 was Waynes’s breakthrough year when he started 16 games and finished with 57 total tackles (a career-best), one sack, 11 pass breakups, and collected two interceptions.

In 2018 and 2019, Waynes started 14 games each season and had two-year totals of 108 tackles, 16 pass breakups, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

As a free agent in 2020, he signed a multi-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. Waynes missed all of that season with injuries before playing in five games in 2021. Before the 2022 season, Waynes decided to retire from football.

Considering his high draft status, Waynes never did become the great corner the Vikings had envisioned. Instead, he had a decent career with Minnesota that included 247 tackles, one sack, 43 pass breakups, and seven interceptions. During his time in the NFL, Waynes was never selected as an All-Pro or to a Pro Bowl.

1. Daunte Culpepper - QB (1999)

In 1998, the Vikings and rookie receiver Randy Moss won 15 games, set an NFL scoring record, and advanced to the NFC Championship game before losing to the Atlanta Falcons. Veteran quarterback Randall Cunningham was reborn, passing for 3,704 yards, 34 touchdowns (a career-best), and 10 interceptions for an NFL-best 106.0 passer rating.

Then, a few months after the 1998 season, Minnesota selected former Central Florida quarterback Daunte Culpepper with the 11th overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Cunningham and newly acquired Jeff George led the Vikings to a 10-6 record and a loss to the St. Louis Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs in 1999, as Culpepper barely saw the field during his rookie year.

Before the 2000 season began, Culpepper was named Minnesota's starting quarterback. That year, Culpepper passed for almost 4,000 yards, 33 touchdowns (which led the NFL), and 16 interceptions as he helped the Vikings return to the NFC Championship against the New York Giants.

Over the next five years, Culpepper had his ups and downs, though he threw for over 3,000 yards three times. Before the 2003 season, team owner Red McCombs gave Culpepper a mega deal that would pay him $102 million over 10 years.

In 2004, the quarterback led the league with a career-high 4,717 passing yards, and he also threw a career-best 39 touchdowns. He was named to his third Pro Bowl that season.

One year later, a severe knee injury limited Culpepper to just seven games, and he was also involved in the infamous “Love Boat” scandal.

After the 2005 season, Culpepper was traded to the Miami Dolphins. He then spent the 2007 season with Oakland before ending his career in Detroit. Culpepper retired from the NFL after the 2009 season.

In seven years with the Vikings, Culpepper was 38-42 overall, passed for 20,162 yards, threw 135 touchdowns, tossed 86 interceptions, and rushed for 2,476 yards and another 29 scores.

He was a three-time Pro Bowler, one-time NFL passing yards leader, and passing touchdowns leader, and was later named one of the 50 Greatest Vikings and added to the Minnesota Vikings All-Mall of America Field Team.  

Interesting side note: In 1991, Minnesota would have had the 11th overall spot in the draft. However, because of the Hershel Walker trade in 1989, the Dallas Cowboys had the pick.

Two days before the draft began, the Cowboys traded their 11th and 41st selections to the New England Patriots to get the Pats’ first-round pick. Dallas then took University of Miami defensive tackle, Russell Maryland, with the selection.

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