The Biggest Vikings Draft Busts: WR Troy Williamson
Pick: 7th overall in 2005 NFL Draft
The selection of Troy Williamson was set in motion when star receiver Randy Moss was traded to the Oakland Raiders following the 2004 season. The Minnesota Vikings would receive linebacker Napoleon Harris, the Raiders’ first-round pick (seventh overall), and their seventh-round pick.
Minnesota was dead-set on replacing Moss’ deep-threat ability, and Williamson, on paper, fit the mold. He ran a 4.34 forty-yard dash and possessed a 37-inch vertical. In fact, Williamson actually got open fairly consistently with the Vikings, sometimes torching secondaries. So, what is he doing on this list?
Well, unfortunately, Troy Williamson couldn’t catch. In 2006, he dropped a wide-open pass at the first down marker against the San Francisco 49ers that would have kept a potential game-tying drive alive. In an ugly week 16 game against the Green Bay Packers, Williamson somehow misjudged a deep ball that ended up hitting his back shoulder.
After 61 receptions for 827 yards and two touchdowns over his first two seasons, Williamson spent the 2007 off-season at Nike headquarters. There, they discovered the vision of his right eye was weaker than the vision of his left eye. He did exercises to strengthen his right eye and wore special contacts to try fixing the problem.
2007 didn’t get much better for Williamson. Outside of a 60-yard touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears, he only caught 17 passes for 180 yards in 11 games (he even started eight of these, so it wasn’t like he was on the field for a few plays per game).
The final game of the 2007 season was a microcosm of Williamson’s career. Against the Denver Broncos, he had two brutal drops, one coming on a 3rd and 10 where he dropped a pass that hit him in the chest. The other came when he got 15 yards behind the Broncos secondary. Unfortunately, the bomb thrown from Tarvaris Jackson hit Williamson in the facemask.
The Vikings ended up trading Williamson to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round pick following the season. When the two teams met in 2008, Williamson made it clear to the media that he didn’t care for Vikings head coach Brad Childress. Williamson was willing to “meet on the 50-yard line” so that the two could “duke it out.”
It’s always easy to look back on who teams could have drafted. The Vikings not only passed on Rodgers at pick seven, but they also passed on him at 18. It’s fun for fans to poke fun at the team for passing on the Hall of Famer twice. However, Daunte Culpepper was coming off an MVP-caliber season in 2004 so Rodgers wasn’t a realistic option at that point.
However, it was known that Vikings head coach Mike Tice wanted Shawne Merriman going into the draft. Merriman played at Maryland just like Tice had during his college career, and he would have instantly improved a defense that ranked 28th overall in 2004. Merriman racked up 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons before a knee injury in 2008 derailed his career. Still, his impact in his first three seasons could have altered the Vikings’ mid-2000s mediocrity.
Altogether, the Troy Williamson selection was a combination of everything that can go wrong with a draft selection. The Vikings were so desperate to replace a departed star that they attempted to find the replica of that departed star as opposed to a more complete receiver or a better player at another position of need.