With the NFL Draft just nine days away, teams are making their final analyses and determinations of roster deficiencies, when and how to address them. Like every team, the Minnesota Vikings have weaknesses of their own that they will address on that weekend as well.
One such area of concern is the running back position. After a decade of having Adrian Peterson running all over opposing defenses, the Vikings will open 2017 with a new feature back. Despite the addition of Latavius Murray during free agency, there is an argument to be made that the Vikings could be searching for another back to help share the load with Murray and fourth-year running back, Jerick McKinnon.
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Running Back Roster:
Latavius Murray*, Jerick McKinnon, Bishop Sankey, C.J. Ham
(*) – projected or incumbent starter
The wheels finally came off the Vikings running attack in 2016. Adrian Peterson missed all but three games due to a torn meniscus. This, coupled with the injuries and poor blocking along the offensive line led to the league’s worst run production in 2016. McKinnon simply isn’t a big or strong enough back to be an every-down player as he struggled in the attempt to fill that role.
Jerick McKinnon’s 2016 stat line: 159 carries, 539 yards, 2 touchdowns; 43 receptions, 255 yards, 2 touchdowns
After being the team’s leading rusher for most of the past decade, the Vikings elected against bringing back Adrian Peterson and signed former Oakland Raider running back, Latavius Murray. Though not the explosive runner that Peterson was in his heyday, he is still a capable back who can make the occasional big run and is dependable in goal-line situations, as his 12 touchdowns in 2016 would attest. The hope is he, McKinnon, and possibly a newly drafted running back, paired with a rebuilt offensive line will re-energize a running attack that lacked any punch last season.
Need (none; 1 — desperate; 10): 6 to 7
Chances Vikings draft a running back: High
The Adrian Peterson era has officially ended in Minnesota. Despite the team’s shift towards a more pass oriented offense, they are still intent on ensuring that their passing attack is paired with a strong running game. They appear to be on the path to utilizing the running back-by-committee approach that many of the other NFL teams have been using. With this year’s running back draft class being touted as being the deepest in a number of years, and the Vikings now on the lookout for a playmaker at the position, it’s very possible the Vikings make a play for one early in their draft. The team has been linked to Oklahoma backs Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Texas running back D’Onta Foreman, Toledo’s Kareem Hunt, and Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara throughout the pre-draft evaluation process.