The Drafting of the '09 Class - Randall McDaniel

Hall of Famers Published on : 4/24/2009

Pulling guard leads the way

After finishing at the bottom of the NFC Central Division with a 3-13 record in 1984, the Minnesota Vikings spent the next three seasons hovering right around the .500 mark. Even though the Vikings made it to the NFC Championship game during the 1987 season, they did so despite having the weakest record of any playoff team at 8-7. That finish landed the Vikings the 19th pick in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft.

McDaniel was voted to two more Pro Bowls than any other Vikings player.
From 1986 to the 1987 season Minnesota watched its total offensive ranking drop from fourth overall to 15th. Having spent four of the previous five first round draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings began looking at prospects to help get its offense back on track.

They found that player in guard Randall McDaniel, out of Arizona State University. At 6-4 and 270 pounds, McDaniel was the fourth offensive lineman and first guard taken in the 1988 NFL Draft. Most NFL scouts agreed that Randall was the most athletic offensive lineman in the draft. In fact, before he enrolled at Arizona State to play football, McDaniel was a highly recruited basketball standout averaging nearly 25 points per game in high school. His passion for football was evident though, and he quickly began to be recognized for his outstanding play at tight end.

McDaniel saw limited action as a freshman tight end for the Sun Devils. But, during his sophomore season the coaching staff switched him to guard where he started the next 39 consecutive games. By the time he completed his senior season, he had won first-team All-Pac 10 honors as well as the Morris Trophy given to the conference’s most outstanding offensive lineman.

His desire to succeed was only equaled by his athleticism and size.
“I take advantage of my quickness whenever they allow me to pull on sweep plays,” McDaniel explained. “I’m able to use my speed downfield. I can get on a defensive back better than some other guards; I can be running three-quarters speed and they think I’m just some big offensive lineman they can slip around, then I open up full speed and I’m right there with them.”

“Any time a guy weighing 270 pounds runs into a guy weighing 190 pounds, he should be able to run right over him,” rationalized McDaniel. “That’s what I do. I use my size and quickness and I think that’s what sets me apart from other lineman.”

As a rookie, McDaniel provided everything the Vikings were looking for out of its number one pick. He earned All-Rookie and second team All-NFC honors after becoming a starter in the second week of the season. He started the final 15 games at left guard. The offense rebounded, climbing back into the top 10 to finish seventh in NFL total offense. The team posted an 11-5 regular season record and made its second straight playoff appearance. The next season Minnesota saw even more from its future star as Randall McDaniel led the way to the Vikings’ first NFC Central Division title in nine seasons.

During his 14-year playing career McDaniel started 186 straight games, was selected All-Pro nine times, named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990s, and was voted to an NFL record 12 consecutive trips to the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl. Obviously, the Vikings had made the right choice with that 19th pick in 1988.