The Vikings’ best first round draft picks of the past decade

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Jack White
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4. LB Anthony Barr

Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr. Photo: AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn

Barr has garnered some scorn from Vikings fans for his play not necessarily being worth his contract. That said, he's still a very useful player for Minnesota, as evidenced by how poorly the defense did in his absence this past season. He adds an underrated quality in the pass rush and is considered a good field general.

3. CB Xavier Rhodes

Former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports

It's east to forget just how good Rhodes was with the Vikings. He had at least 10 passes defended from 2013 to 2017. He was named a first-team All-Pro once and a three-time Pro Bowler. His level of play eventually dropped off with Minnesota. Then, he signed with the Colts in the 2020 offseason and had a resurgent year. Overall, he was a big part of Mike Zimmer's old defenses.

2. S Harrison Smith

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive back Harrison Smith. Photo: Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports

A beacon of consistency, Smith is a five-time Pro Bowler and a one-time first-team All-Pro. He has intercepted at least three passes in every season since 2017. He's earned a PFF grade of over 74 in every year since 2014. In 2020, he had five interceptions, 10 passes defended, five QB hits and a PFF grade of 74.3. Smith has been a staple of Zimmer's defenses since he was a rookie.

1. WR Justin Jefferson

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Photo: AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn

I know, I know, he's only played one NFL season. But if that season is any indication, Jefferson is one of the best first-round draft picks the Vikings have ever had. He broke multiple rookie records. He had 1,400 receiving yards, seven touchdown receptions and a PFF grade of 90.4. The future is promising, so much so that he claims the top spot.

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