Historically the Minnesota Vikings have fared well in the draft, selecting quality players. But just like every team, they have had some players who haven’t worked out. Let’s look at the five biggest NFL draft busts in Vikings history.
5. Erasmus James, 2005, 1st Round, 18th Overall
Coming out of Wisconsin, the Vikings hoped Erasmus James would be a star, and after his first season he looked like that could be the case.
Over the next two seasons, he only played in eight games because of knee injuries. During the 2006 season he suffered a torn ACL, and after another injury during the 2007 season, the team decided to cut him.
4. Christian Ponder, 2011, 1st Round, 11th Overall
The Vikings needed a quarterback in 2011 and the Vikings made a big reach to take Christian Ponder. Many believed he would fall until the second or third round, but the Vikings still selected him 11th overall in Round 1.
In his first full year as a starter, Ponder struggled, throwing for only 18 touchdowns and less than 3,000 yards. During the 2013 season, the Vikings signed Josh Freeman during the middle of the season and the writing was on the wall for Cousin’s time in Minnesota.
Ponder made one more appearance in 2014 and the Vikings moved on from him after the season. Ponder never appeared in another regular-season game.
3. Matt Kalil, 2012, 1st Round, 4th Overall
Matt Kalil was selected in 4th overall in the 2012 draft, and after his rookie season, he looked like he was going to be an anchor for the Vikings offensive line for many years to come.
It’s still a great mystery what changed between the first and second season, but something did, and he was never the same. He struggled to keep anyone out of the backfield, and too often he just let players have an easy path to the backfield.
During the 2017 season, Kalil only appeared in two games because of injuries, and that was his last season with the team. He’s bounced around the league since, but is currently a free agent after being cut by the Houston Texans last season.
2. Troy Williamson, 2005, 1st Round, 7th Overall
Troy Williamson might have had unfairly high expectations coming to the Vikings because he was expected to replace the production of Randy Moss.
Vikings fans would have been happy with just a decent wide receiver, but they didn’t even get that. Williamson was speedy, but he had trouble catching the ball and too often he would let his team down with dropped passes and miscalculations in his route running.
In three seasons, Williamson only caught 87 passes and the team ended up trading him to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
1. Dimitrius Underwood, 1999, 1st Round, 29th Overall
Coming out of college there were a lot of red flags surrounding defensive tackle Dimitrius Underwood, but the Vikings still felt his play on the field outweighed the risk, and they took him 29th overall in the 1999 draft.
Underwood only made it through one training camp practice before leaving the team and he never ended up playing for the Vikings, even in preseason.
Underwood did later land with the Miami Dolphins and then the Dallas Cowboys, but he didn’t last too long with either squad, playing in 19 games for Dallas before ending his career.