MINNEAPOLIS -- We're continuing our review of the Minnesota Vikings' recent draft history today, with a look at how the team did in 2011:
First-round pick: No. 12 (Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State)
Number of picks: 10
Total Draft AV: 54 (16th; Seattle was the best with a 99 AV)
Highest player AV: Ponder, 21 (T-26th; Carolina's Cam Newton was the best with a 49 AV)
How they did: This draft was the Vikings' first after they came down from their "all-in" strategy of 2010, when they kept an aging roster together for one more shot at a ring. After that approach led to a chaotic 6-10 season, the Vikings pledged to go young and drafted 10 players to help with that effort. The results from that draft are mixed at best. Second-round pick Kyle Rudolph looks like he'll be with the Vikings for years at tight end, and guard Brandon Fusco has developed into at least a serviceable starter. But the Vikings had dealt their third-rounder to the New England Patriots in the ill-fated Randy Moss trade, and only two other players from the draft are still with the team. One of them -- quarterback Christian Ponder -- will forever define how this draft is viewed by Vikings fans.
Pivotal pick: The Vikings came into the draft knowing they needed to address the quarterback situation, and as former coach Leslie Frazier has said, they identified Ponder as their guy well before the draft. Many believed he would still be on the board in the second round, but the Vikings decided to use their first-round pick on him, passing on help for their defense and choosing Ponder over quarterbacks such as TCU's Andy Dalton and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick. And after three mediocre seasons from Ponder, the Vikings will likely take another young quarterback in the 2014 draft, with a new coaching staff and a pressing need for general manager Rick Spielman to get the quarterback situation solved.
Best pick: After selecting Ponder, the Vikings got him a safety blanket in Rudolph, and that pick looks like it could be the most enduring selection from the 2010 draft. Rudolph won Pro Bowl MVP honors in 2013, after catching 53 passes and scoring nine touchdowns in 2012. He looked on the way to posting better numbers last season before breaking his foot, and he could be in line for a bigger role in new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's scheme. Rudolph will be a free agent after this season, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings explore a contract extension sometime before next spring.
Worst pick: Ponder was certainly the costliest, and could contend for this title on that basis alone. The Vikings gambled on him turning into a franchise quarterback, despite concerns about his arm and his response to pressure coming out of college, and while he's only 25, the team appears set to move on from him as its starter. Fifth-rounder Brandon Burton was cut before last season after starting just one game at cornerback, and fourth-rounder Christian Ballard, who looked like he had some promise at defensive tackle, abruptly retired after leaving the team during training camp last summer.