Ranking the last 10 Vikings first-round picks in the NFL Draft

Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

The Minnesota Vikings are approaching one of the most important drafts in franchise history, and a lot of the talk revolves around their first-round pick. While trade rumors and speculation have surrounded this year’s draft, there’s also a sense of PTSD surrounding Minnesota’s recent history in the draft.

The Vikings have found some franchise cornerstones in the first round, including Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw, but they’ve also had some misses, such as Laquon Treadwell and Mike Hughes.

Although different regimes have been at the controls, Minnesota's history is interesting to observe. In this article, we’ll look at the Vikings' last 10 picks in the first round of the draft and how those selections impacted the team in the last decade.

Ranking the last 10 Minnesota Vikings first-round picks in the NFL Draft

10. Laquon Treadwell - WR (2016)

The Vikings needed a weapon for Teddy Bridgewater in the 2016 draft and Laquon Treadwell was falling down the board.

The Ole Miss product was one of the top prospects in the draft after catching 82 passes for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns during his senior season and fans rolled in approval when the Vikings selected Treadwell with the 23rd overall pick in the draft.

Unfortunately, Treadwell’s professional career wasn’t as good as his collegiate career. He caught just one pass for 15 yards during his rookie season, and although he caught 55 passes over the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he only recorded 502 yards and one touchdown.

Treadwell caught just nine passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in 2019 and has 46 catches for 541 yards and three touchdowns in the next four years with Atlanta, Seattle, Jacksonville, and Baltimore.

9. Lewis Cine - S (2022)

Lewis Cine was the first draft pick for current Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, but he came with plenty of controversy.

Minnesota held the 12th overall pick coming into the draft but traded down 20 picks with the Detroit Lions, passing on fellow safety Kyle Hamilton, wide receiver Jameson Williams, and defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

While the rest of the trade, which involved Andrew Booth Jr., Ed Ingram, and Brian Asamoah, deserves some flack, Cine didn’t hold his end of the bargain. A broken leg in London in 2022 didn’t help matters, but Cine never hit his stride and was inactive toward the end of the season.

With Josh Metellus and Camryn Bynum seizing starting roles, Cine could be a training camp cut this summer.

8. Mike Hughes - CB (2018)

Coming off an appearance in the NFC Championship Game, the Vikings had a shot at several players at the back end of the 2018 draft, including Lamar Jackson. But with the signing of Kirk Cousins, Mike Zimmer opted for depth in the secondary, selecting UCF cornerback Mike Hughes.

Hughes got off to a promising start with a pick-six in his first career game, but things changed when he suffered a multi-ligament knee injury the following October. Hughes returned nearly one year later but he never got past the injury and was traded to the Chiefs prior to the 2021 season.

7. Teddy Bridgewater - QB (2014)

The emotional side wants to put Bridgewater higher but his impact for the Vikings was limited due to another career-altering injury.

Bridgewater was the 32nd overall pick in the 2014 draft and led the Vikings to a division title in 2015. Things were trending upward heading into this third season until a gruesome injury during practice put his career and his leg in jeopardy.

Doctors were able to save Bridgewater’s leg, and he returned to the field in 2017. With the Vikings looking for a more stable solution, Bridgewater signed with the New York Jets before spending time with the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, and Detroit Lions.

The fact Bridgewater had a career after the injury is astonishing but he’s one of the biggest cases of what could have been.

Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury / David Berding/GettyImages

6. Garrett Bradbury - C (2019)

If you’re going off longevity, Bradbury hasn’t been a terrible pick for the Vikings. But after he was assumed to be a rock-solid solution, the North Carolina State product hasn’t lived up to the expectations.

Bradbury registered a pass-blocking grade of 0.0 in his first career game in 2018 and it was a precursor of what was to come.

Routinely out-muscled by stronger defensive linemen, Bradbury has been disappointing despite flashes of brilliance and hasn’t been the anchor of the offensive line Minnesota thought they were getting.

Although he is in line to be the starter in 2024, his future beyond that is up in the air.

5. Trae Waynes - CB (2015)

The 2015 draft class is one of the best in franchise history, and it was led off by cornerback Trae Waynes.

Waynes had the size and speed that was appealing in Mike Zimmer’s scheme and was selected with the 11th overall pick in the draft.

While he was a fit athletically, he started just one game in his rookie season and eight games in his second season before starting 48 games over his final three years in Minnesota.

Waynes signed with the Cincinnati Bengals prior to the 2020 season but played in just four games due to injuries. While he didn’t live up to expectations, he also was an important part of Minnesota’s defense in the late 2010s.

4. Jordan Addison - WR (2023)

The 23rd overall pick in the 2023 draft, Addison caught 70 passes for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns last year.

His numbers could have been even better if Kirk Cousins didn’t tear his Achilles and if Justin Jefferson didn’t suffer a hamstring injury that made him a No. 1 target.

While Addison has a long way to go, he has all the makings of a superstar. A new quarterback should help him continue to put up numbers and the presence of Jefferson should help him become a top target for years to come.

3. Christian Darrisaw - LT (2021)

Many fans wanted the Vikings to select Justin Fields in the 2021 draft, but the Vikings got a nice consolation prize in Christian Darrisaw.

Darrisaw has become one of the top offensive tackles in the NFL, allowing a 10 percent pressure rate over his first three seasons.

While Darrisaw is in line for a massive payday, he should remain a big part of the Vikings' future after being selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2021 draft.

Minnesota Vikings
Former Minnesota Vikings LB Anthony Barr / Hannah Foslien/GettyImages

2. Anthony Barr - LB (2014)

While many Vikings fans were expecting a quarterback with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Zimmer went in a different direction and selected Barr.

Barr was frustrating for Vikings fans after his pass-rushing ability was oversold in the draft, but he wound up as one of the best linebackers in team history. Barr ranks 13th in franchise history with 39 tackles for loss and 15th with 336 total tackles.

Barr spent eight seasons in Minnesota before heading to the Dallas Cowboys in 2022 and back to the Vikings in 2023.

1. Justin Jefferson - WR (2020)

When the Philadelphia Eagles selected Jalen Reagor with the 21st overall pick, Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman laughed because they knew Justin Jefferson was falling into their lap.

The Vikings took Jefferson with the following pick and he became an immediate superstar for Minnesota. Jefferson has 392 catches for 5,899 yards and 30 touchdowns in his first four seasons and his signature touchdown dance, “The Griddy” has become a staple in pop culture.

The Vikings have batted .500 on their draft picks in the last decade, but Justin Jefferson remains a notch above everyone else.

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