Minnesota Vikings: Biggest Draft Day Regret In Franchise History
Dimitrius Underwood will go down in football history as one of the biggest mysteries to ever not play football in Minnesota. This wasn’t about talent as much as it was about the mental fortitude a prospect has to have to play in the NFL. Despite the mental issues Underwood was reported to have when he was selected in the 1999 NFL Draft, he was also one strange dude.
According to NFL.com, at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, Underwood passed the eyeball test and registered impressive measurables coming out of Michigan State. The Vikings selected him in the first round, but he never made the active roster and bounced around the NFL and CFL until 2005 before his playing career ended.
But in that time frame, he was nothing short of an enigma.
After being drafted, he signed a five year, $5.3 million contract on August 1, 1999 but walked out of training camp the next day and never returned, saying he could not resolve the conflict between playing football and serving his Christian faith. The Vikings released him later that month. Underwood later changed his mind and decided to return to the NFL.
He was claimed on waivers by the Miami Dolphins after 23 teams passed on him, but showed a lack of focus towards football. Multiple times during team meetings, Underwood was found not taking notes, but instead writing about the apocalypse. He only played one preseason game for the Dolphins before getting injured.
Underwood later spent two months in protective care and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. After he escaped from a psychiatric care facility, he was released from the Dolphins in December 1999. He later signed a two-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys. During the 2000–2001 seasons, Underwood had 21 tackles and four sacks in 19 games. In January 2001, he tried to kill himself for the second time by running into traffic twice on a busy suburban highway. The Cowboys released him later that month.
After four years out of football, Underwood resurfaced in the CFL with the Ottawa Renegades. However, he was cut during the preseason.
The Vikings have had other misses over the years as well.
In 1975, the team drafted Art Riley. A two-time letter-winner, two-time Rose Bowl participant and member of the 1974 national championship team at USC, Riley's career didn't pan out with the Vikings. He never made the Vikings roster.
D.J. Dozier was another running back from Penn State who could not find success in the NFL. The Vikings entered the 1987 draft having not ranked in the top 10 in rushing since 1975, so they traded two picks (first round and fifth round) to move up two spots in order to select Dozier. In 37 games over five seasons with the Vikings, Dozier rushed for just 643 yards and seven touchdowns.
The 2005 NFL Draft produced Troy Williamson, a player who produced as a journeyman in the league, but was never worthy of the seventh pick in the Draft. The Vikings were looking to replace the vertical threat they lost in trading away Randy Moss and used their top choice on the speedy wideout from South Carolina. But Williamson's career didn't pan out as expected, as he totaled just 79 receptions and three touchdowns in 39 games played over three seasons.