Ranking every single QB the Vikings have drafted with a first-round pick

Former Minnesota Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper
Former Minnesota Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper / Elsa/GettyImages

During the first day of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings traded back into the opening round to select former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with the final pick of the night.

That was the last time the Vikings decided to use a first-round draft selection on a quarterback, and it's actually one of only four times the franchise used a pick in the opening round on a passing prospect.

So, looking back at each of the four quarterbacks who were drafted by Minnesota with a first-round selection, how should they be ranked from worst to best?

Ranking every single QB the Minnesota Vikings drafted with a first-round pick

4. Christian Ponder (2011 - Pick No. 12)

To be fair, Christian Ponder was placed in a terrible situation from the start.

Ponder was drafted in the middle of an offseason during which the NFL was having a lockout, meaning the young quarterback didn't get to take advantage of rookie minicamp or any OTAs before training camp began in the summer.

Then he was tasked with running an offense that didn't really fit his skill-set as former Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave never really took advantage of Ponder's rushing ability and wanted him to just be a traditional dropback quarterback instead.

Perhaps things could have gone differently for him if he wound up with a team that actually wanted to let him utilize some of his biggest strengths. But Ponder only lasted four seasons with Minnesota, finishing with a 14-21 record as a starter and a career passer rating of 75.9.

3. Teddy Bridgewater (2014 - Pick No. 32)

Teddy Bridgewater's tenure with the Vikings will always have a gigantic "What if?" label on top of it.

Bridgewater was added in 2014 under first-year head coach Mike Zimmer, and in the beginning, it seemed like Minnesota had stumbled into their next franchise quarterback.

As a rookie, Bridgewater started 12 games and led the Vikings to a 6-6 record during these contests. Year two for the young Minnesota quarterback went even better, as he helped lead the team to an 11-5 record and their first division title since 2009.

Unfortunately, Bridgewater and the Vikings fell victim to a egregious missed field-goal attempt by Blair Walsh, and the team was upset by the Seattle Seahawks in the opening round of the 2015 playoffs. Despite the loss, the future seemed bright for Minnesota with Bridgewater as their starter.

But then something terrible happened during a summer practice in 2016.

Bridgewater suffered a gruesome knee injury during a practice right before the start of the 2016 campaign, and his season was immediately over. After a long rehab process, he persevered and returned to the field as a backup in the middle of the 2017 season.

With there still being a bunch of uncertainty surrounding the health of his knee moving forward and the Vikings deciding to sign free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, Bridgewater and the franchise parted ways during the 2018 offseason.

2. Tommy Kramer (1977 - Pick No. 27)

Presented with the gigantic task of eventually replacing the legendary Fran Tarkenton under center for Minnesota, Tommy Kramer had huge expectations to live up to as soon as he was drafted by the Vikings.

During Kramer's first two seasons with Minnesota, he spent most of his time on the bench. Then, in year three, he started all 16 games for the Vikings. That season, Minnesota went 7-9 with Kramer in the starting lineup, and he finished with 3,397 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions.

Despite his knack for turning the ball over, Kramer also developed a reputation for leading the Vikings to come-from-behind victories. During his 13 seasons with Minnesota, he accumulated 15 fourth-quarter comebacks and 19 game-winning drives.

His best year with the Vikings came in 1986 when he was voted to the Pro Bowl after throwing for 3,000 yards, 24 touchdowns, and just 10 interceptions. Minnesota finished with a 9-7 record that season and the offense ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring.

Currently, Kramer ranks second in Vikings history in career starts (behind only Tarkenton), second in career passing yards, and third in career passing touchdowns.

He might not have had the career that he or others might have wished he had, but he was still able to provide Minnesota fans with a number of memorable moments during his time with the franchise (including his own "miracle" play before the one that took place in 2017).

1. Daunte Culpepper (1999 - Pick No. 11)

Placing Daunte Culpepper at the top of this list was not a difficult decision at all.

No quarterback in Vikings history has been drafted with a higher selection than Culpepper, and during his first season as a starter, he proved he was worth where he was selected.

After sitting out his rookie season, Culpepper became Minnesota's starting quarterback for the 2000 season, and all he did was lead the team to an 11-5 record, a division title, and an appearance in the NFC Championship.

During that 2000 campaign with the Vikings, he threw for 3,937 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions while also rushing for 470 yards and another seven scores.

Culpepper was also doing all of this while measuring in at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. He was really the prototype of what someone like Josh Allen currently is in the modern version of the NFL.

Injuries hampered him during his next few seasons with the Vikings, and then in 2004, he exploded with a monster performance. If not for Peyton Manning, Culpepper would have likely won the league's MVP award in 2004 after throwing for 4,717 yards, 39 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

Unfortunately, he suffered a significant knee injury in the middle of the 2005 season, and that turned out to be his final year in a Vikings uniform.

Did Culpepper reach his full potential during his time with Minnesota? Probably not. But is anyone ever going to not enjoy watching highlights of him chucking the ball 60 yards down the field into the bread baskets of his receivers? Probably not.

As the Vikings prepare for the 2024 season, Culpepper still holds the franchise records for most passing yards in a season, most passing touchdowns in a season, highest passer rating in a season, most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season, most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season, and career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

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