Closing the book on Minnesota’s 2005 draft

By Jonathan Mohr  |   Thursday, May 29, 2008  |  Comments( 3 )

Minnesota Vikings
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Randy Moss had just been traded, the defense was awful (28th in the NFL in yards allowed the year before) and the organization was coming off another mediocre 8-8 season.

Those were the facts in the late spring of 2005 as the Minnesota Vikings prepared for the draft. The team was faced with two choices -- acknowledge that the Moss era was over, turn the page and try to begin rebuilding, or find someone to fill No. 84’s shoes and keep the aerial circus humming along.

Team officials recited the usual clichés about taking "the best player available" and the risks of drafting based on need, then went ahead and rolled the dice anyway, using the club's first-round pick from the Moss trade to select a player they thought could step into his role and their own first-round pick for a player they hoped would become the next Chris Doleman.

Those dice finally stopped rolling this week as the second of the team's two 2005 first-round draft choices, Erasmus James, was traded to the Washington Redskins. And, to the surprise of no one who has been keeping an eye on the players in that class, the Vikings came up “snake eyes” again.

They say you can never properly analyze the impact a draft class will have for at least three years, so with that time now passed, let’s look at what the Vikings got from their seven picks in 2005:

Round 1, pick No. 7 - Troy Williamson (wide receiver, South Carolina): The face of the '05 class and the very definition of “first-round bust,” Williamson was traded to Jacksonville for a sixth-round draft choice in late February, finishing his three-year career in Minnesota with 79 receptions, three touchdowns and a collection of gag-reel drops that are more sad than laughable.

Round 1, pick No. 18 - Erasmus James (defensive end, Wisconsin): James reported late to training camp as a rookie and spent the year trying to catch up. He played in 15 games in 2005, making 23 tackles and recording four sacks. But then he tore the ACL in his left knee and never fully recovered, tearing the same ligament again late in 2007. The Vikings traded him for a conditional seventh-round pick.

Round 2, pick No. 49 - Marcus Johnson (offensive tackle, Mississippi): The only member of the class still with the team, Johnson started eight games during his rookie season, 10 more in 2006 and none last year, although he appeared in all 16. Johnson has been given every opportunity to win the starting job at right tackle but at this point appears unable to do so. He could hang around as a backup, but his production has obviously not been what the team needed from a top-50 pick.

Round 3, pick No. 80 - Dustin Fox (safety, Ohio State): Fox broke his arm and was placed on injured reserve during his rookie season. He never appeared in a game for the Vikings and has played in seven total contests during his three NFL campaigns, including six in 2007 for Buffalo, where he finished the season with one tackle.

Round 4, pick No. 112 - Ciatrick Fason (running back, Florida): Fason appeared in 13 games for the Vikings during his rookie year and was used mostly in short-yardage and goal-line situations. He finished the year with four touchdowns and 62 yards rushing on 32 attempts. In 2006 he played in five games for Minnesota and gained 99 yards rushing in 18 attempts. By 2007, he was out of the NFL.

Round 6, pick No. 191 - C.J. Mosley (defensive tackle, Missouri): Mosley made the team and played in12 games as a rookie, recording 15 tackles and three sacks. He was traded to the Jets for Brooks Bollinger during the 2006 preseason and has played in 20 games for New York over the past two seasons, recording 16 tackles, six assists and 3.5 sacks.

Round 7, pick No. 219 - Adrian Ward (defensive back, UTEP): Ward never made the team.

Looking back, a fan could probably spend time playing the what-if game regarding the Vikings' poor draft selections. But instead, it’s probably better to follow the example Minnesota set earlier this week – admit that a mistake was made and move on.
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About Jonathan Mohr

A lifelong Vikings fan, I live in the Twin Cities area (about a mile from Winter Park) and work as an editor at a boating magazine. As with all long-suffering Vikings fans, I patiently look forward to the day when Minnesota finally breaks through and wins a Super Bowl. Until then I eat my...
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CommentsComments: 3  |  Sign Up  View all comments
09:27 AM
I remember thinking at the time that Williamson was a reach at no. 7 and that Erasmus James was too injury-prone to take at their...
04:20 PM
I agree bardley. We haven't had a good DE since Chris Doleman was around. And I wish Williamson the best...but the guy just...
04:18 PM
In 2005 was not really the best draft year for most teams. Hopefully these changes will help the Vikings along more as well.
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