So this scenario is with the thinking that Adrian Peterson has sadly played his last down for the Minnesota Vikings. While in a perfect world he retires a Viking, we need to be realistic. So ….. moving on.
Going into the offseason Matt Asiata will be a free agent, and really, he has been a nice safety net on getting some tough yards and holding on to the ball, he has a career average of 3.5 yards a carry… not great, and most likely not enough to want to bring him back for 2017. Leaving us with Jerick McKinnon. Who I see as a nice change of pace back who can bust out a big play every once in a while, not someone who I think we should hand over the keys to as the #1 back.
So what are our options heading into the offseason? Free agency and the draft, and I think they’ll dip into both to address the position.
FREE AGENT OPTIONS
First lets start off with REALISTIC free agent running back options.
The “Prove-It Guy”
Jacquizz Rodgers, Bucs
Rodgers emerged as the Bucs best running back in 2016 piling up some pretty big games where he was heavily relied upon. He has bounced around the league (Bears, Falcons, Bucs) but has yet to be handed the keys to anyones backfield. He could be a guy a team like the Vikings take a chance on and see what he actually could do given the chance to start week 1. Pairing him with McKinnon and a mid-round rookie is actually my favorite scenario of the bunch.
The “Proven Old Fart”
DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
Williams is a dinosaur and will be 34 in April. He would be signed to step in week 1 as the starter and help mold whichever rookie they decide to draft, and be more of a stop-gap until the running back position is figured out. He still produces at an above average level, but will no doubt continue to show his age.
The “What the $%&# Guy”
Darren McFadden, Cowboys
This one would be out of left field. He is coming off an injury riddled season where he only managed 24 carries. BUT he is also only a year removed from a 1,000+ yard season, while he has never lived up to his hype coming out of college he is a wildcard guy who might be worth taking a shot on. IF and that is a big IF he managed to stay healthy it wouldn’t be crazy for him to put 1,000+ yards in this Viking offense.
NFL DRAFT OPTIONS
Now .. .lets move on to the rookies options.
The “Flashy Pick”
D’Onta Foreman, Texas
The good news on getting Foreman would be the running back position would have zero questions heading into 2017. The bad news? You are passing on greater needs like offensive line to get him. They would need to take him with their 1st pick (2nd round) to get him and he might not even be there then. He is a bruiser who racked up 2,000+ yards on the ground last year for Texas and damn it…. he is one of my favorite overall backs in the entire draft class.
The “Safe Mid-Rounder”
Marlon Mack, South Florida
Mack has racked up 1,000 yards the past three seasons for South Florida. A true playmaker that can take it to the house anytime he touches the ball. In a draft class with a pretty solid group of running backs Mack will get pushed into the mid rounds but could end up being one of the bigger steals of the draft. We see it every year, a running back who goes in the 4th round and beyond and becomes an instant workhorse.
The “Unconventional Risky Pick”
Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Nobody questions Mixon’s abilities, totaling over 1,200 rushing yards and proving to be a force catching the ball out of the backfield in 2016. It’s the off the field stuff with Mixon that makes him a huge risk on even selecting the Oklahoma back. I can’t see the Vikings wanting this type of attention, especially after what they went through with A.P. a few years ago, but if he has a big ole slide on draft day, which is very possible, it might just be to damn tempting for them to pass … and who better to keep him in line than Zimmer.
MY FINAL PREDICTION????
When all is said and done I think the Vikings running back depth chart will look a little something like this …