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Kevin Schnepf, Published April 26 2013

Schnepf: Vikings avoid pick to regret in Te’o

FARGO - All those Minnesota Vikings fanatics – who Thursday night watched the ESPN trio of Fred Flintstone, Chucky and Quentin Tarantino emcee the NFL draft – will forever shudder when they hear this name: Troy Williamson.

That was the name announced in the 2005 draft as the Vikings’ first pick. The wide receiver with speed but no hands is no longer in the NFL, making a living as a motivational speaker back in his home state of South Carolina.

It goes down as one of the worst first-round picks in Vikings history. It still is thanks to the Vikings refraining from using any of their three first-round picks to select Manti Te’o, the infamous linebacker from Notre Dame.

You could hear a big sigh of relief from all those Vikings fans who would have needed to be wearing that new matte-finished, purple helmet unveiled Thursday night to withstand the reverberation of Manti Te’o, Manti Te’o, Manti Te’o. “Oh boy, Troy,” they muttered in 2005. “Oh no, Te’o,” they would have grumbled Thursday night.

Never mind that Te’o became legendary for what he did off the field rather than on after publically mourning a fake girlfriend.

The Vikings would have been mourning this pick for years to come. Apparently, they did not forget how badly Te’o played in the national championship game or how slowly he sprinted at the NFL Combine.

Despite what the draft experts like Mel “Tarantino” Kiper and Jon “Chucky” Gruden think, Te’o becoming a standout NFL linebacker is about as bogus as a girlfriend named Lennay Kekua.

Without Te’o, the Vikings string of successful drafts – since the Williamson fiasco in 2005 – may very well remain intact.

Before 2005, there were some duds.

In 1967, the Vikings picked Michigan State running back Clinton Jones when they could have picked a guy by the name of Floyd Little. Defensive end Gerald Robinson was a first-round flop in 1986. Running back D.J. Dozier was a first-round snoozer in 1987.

And defensive end Demetrius Underwood was a first-round pick no one understood. He never made the Vikings’ active roster.

Those days are long gone. If they can’t brag about a Super Bowl, Vikings fans can certainly pound their chests over the following draft picks since – dare I say – Troy Williamson:

• 2006: Chad Greenway, Cedric Griffin, Ryan Cook and Ray Edwards. Not bad, even if among those picks was quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

• 2007: Adrian Peterson. Rumor has it there were designs to have the Vikings new uniforms include Superman capes. (Sidney Rice and Brian Robison were also picked that year).

• 2008: This is the year the Vikings traded a first-round pick and two third-round picks for Jared Allen. You could consider that a successful draft, even though the Vikes did pick quarterback John David Booty in the fifth round.

• 2009: Percy Harvin. The talented wide receiver with migraines ended up giving Viking honchos too many headaches, which is why he’s in Seattle now. (Offensive lineman Phil Loadholt is still around).

• 2010: Cornerback Chris Cook and running back Toby Gebhart. But I’m not sure what was worse, drafting Joe Webb or calling him a quarterback.

• 2011: Christian Ponder. At least by banking on a young quarterback, the Vikings’ new uniforms did not require an elastic waistband for old-timers like Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Gus Frerotte or Brad Johnson.

• 2012: Offensive lineman Matt Kalil (Ponder needs all the protection he can get), kicker Blair Walsh (Ponder needs all the scoring help he can get) and safety Harrison Smith (there’s nothing imaginary about the way this Notre Dame grad can play defense).

Which brings us to Thursday night, when an offensive lineman from a small college was the No. 1 pick, when former small college coach Gus Bradley (NDSU) made an offensive lineman his first pick as an NFL head coach, when Buffalo may have topped the Vikings in picking a limited quarterback from Florida State and when former MSUM quarterback Marc Trestman made an offensive lineman his first pick as an NFL head coach.

And the Vikings? They made Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd their first pick and 23rd overall. They made Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes their second pick and 25th overall. And after trading picks in the second, third, fourth and seventh rounds to New England, the Vikings made Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson their third pick and 29th overall.

Say aloha (good-bye) to Manti Te’o, who at his home in Honolulu learned he was not a first-round pick.

Say mahalo (thank you) to Vikings personnel boss Rick Spielman. Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christimas) Vikings fans.


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549 or kschnepf@forumcomm.com. Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com