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Favorite schools, most-picked positions and other Vikings draft trends

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When the Vikings drafted running back Adrian Peterson seventh overall in 2007, not only did they get a Hall-of-Fame talent, they also got rare stability at a position that other NFL teams have churned through.

Since the Vikings picked Peterson, 230 running backs have been drafted by NFL teams. But other than Peterson, the Vikings have only picked two.

Of those 230 other backs, 136 of them started fewer than eight games.

Now with the leading rusher in franchise history no longer on the squad, the Vikings are in unfamiliar territory. Despite signing Latavius Murray in free agency, they are expected to draft one at some point this weekend for the first time since selecting Jerick McKinnon in the 2014 third round.

They are also expected to add at least offensive linemen — the position they have picked the most since 2007 — to help that running back out.

So which other positions have the Vikings frequented in the draft? What schools and conferences do they prefer? When have they made most of their picks? And which one was their best? We will answer all of those questions and others in our annual look at Vikings draft trends.

These numbers, gleaned from Pro Football Reference's draft database, are based on a decade of drafting. That cut-off also happens to coincide with GM Rick Spielman's tenure with the team. He joined the front office after the 2006 draft and earned final say in the draft room six years later.

— The Vikings have drafted 83 players since 2007, an average of 8.3 per year. Of those picks, 41 were defenders, 40 were offensive players and two were kicking specialists. Spielman and the Vikings selected eight players last year, their lowest total since 2010. They drafted 10 players apiece in the 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 drafts and nine in 2013.

— The Vikings have drafted 13 offensive linemen since 2007, tied with linebacker and defensive line as their most frequently-picked position group. Only two of those linemen were picked outside the first three rounds of the draft, though. They have instead picked up a bunch of blockers in the later rounds. Their nine selected on the final day of the draft since 2011 are tied with the 49ers for the most in the league.

— The Vikings have drafted a linebacker in the seventh round of each of the past five drafts, though 2016 seventh-rounder Stephen Weatherly, a 3-4 edge rusher in college, was picked to play defensive end.

— Despite having a seemingly-always-uncertain quarterback situation, the Vikings have only picked five passers in the past decade, one of whom (Joe Webb) who moonlighted as a wide receiver.

— Spielman doesn't figure to lose his "Trader Rick" nickname any time soon. He made another three draft-weekend trades last year and in the past five years Spielman has made 16 total deals during the draft, including three to trade from the second round back into the first (keep that in mind Thursday night). He has made at least two trades each of the past five years and twice made four during a draft (2012 and 2014).

— The Vikings have drafted players from 55 different schools in the past decade. Last year, they got six of their picks from schools they hadn't drafted from since 2007, including Western Michigan and Vanderbilt.

— Spielman has a reputation for picking Notre Dame players, but he hasn’t selected a Golden Domer since adding safeties Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton back in 2012. Meanwhile, he has taken four players from UCLA since 2013, including starting linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. In the past decade, the Vikings have drafted four players apiece from UCLA, Notre Dame, USC, Oklahoma and Florida State.

— They have drafted as many players from Germany — that, of course, was wide receiver Moritz Bohringer in the sixth round last spring — as they have from the University of Minnesota. The last Gophers player they picked was linebacker Nate Triplett in the fifth round of the 2010 draft.

— Since 2007, Spielman and the Vikings have used more than half of their draft picks on players from three conferences — the ACC, the SEC and the Pac 12. They have picked 16 players from both the ACC (two last year) and SEC (three last year) and 13 from the Pac 12 (none last year, the first time they have not picked a player from that conference since 2009, when it was still the Pac 10). They have only picked eight players from the Big Ten and six from the Big 12 over the past decade.

— The Vikings have selected a dozen players in the first round since 2007, including wide receiver Laquon Treadwell last year. But barring a late-night trade Thursday, this will be their first draft without picking a player in the first round since 2010, when they traded out of the first round and picked cornerback Chris Cook early in the second.

— Speaking of second-rounders, Spielman has only picked two players in the second round since getting final say in 2012. And the Vikings as a team have drafted only eight players in that round over the past decade. They have picked even fewer players in the third since then, with six. They have drafted nine in the fourth, 13 in the fifth, 16 in the sixth and 19 in the seventh, including two more in the final round last year.

— The earliest selection they have made in the past decade was offensive tackle Matt Kalil at No. 4 overall in 2012. Their latest in a draft was the 244th pick last year, which they used on safety Jayron Kearse.

— Their most valuable five draft picks of the past decade, based on Pro Football Reference's weighted career approximate value, were in order Peterson, wide receiver Percy Harvin, center John Sullivan, defensive end Brian Robison and offensive tackle Phil Loadholt. Peterson, with an AV of 88, was by far the best of the bunch, with his approximate value doubling up Harvin, Sullivan and Robison, who are all tied for second at 43.

— With Peterson and the retired Chad Greenway no longer in purple, the team's longest-tenured draft pick is now Robison, who was selected in the fourth round in 2007. Robison, defensive end Everson Griffen and tight end Kyle Rudolph are the only current Vikings drafted before 2012. In all, 29 of the players on their 90-man offseason roster were Vikings draft picks.

Report: Adrian Peterson getting close to making his Saints debut in Minnesota

Who says Adrian Peterson won’t open the 2017 season at U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday Night Football?

The former Vikings great very well could be there. As a member of the New Orleans Saints.

According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, Peterson and the Saints are closing in on a one-year, $3 million deal for what would be Peterson’s 11th NFL season and the first outside of Minnesota.

The seventh overall pick of the Vikings 10 years ago, Peterson has racked up seven Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro honors, three rushing titles and  the 2012 league MVP, when he rushed for 2,097 yards, the second-most in NFL history.

But he turned 32 last month. Combine that with last year’s injury-ruined season and a contract that called for him to make $18 million, and, well, the Vikings decided to move on and released him. They went younger, signing Raiders free agent Latavius Murray.

Peterson has rushed for 11,747 yards to rank 16th in NFL history. He’s 565 from passing Jim Brown for 10th place. But he also played only three games last season because of knee and groin injuries.

With the Saints, Peterson would be joining a passing team featuring Drew Brees and a running back group that shares the team’s limited number of carries. Peterson would join running back Mark Ingram, who posted his first 1,000-yard season and a career-high 10 touchdowns a year ago.

Peterson played only one game in 2014, spending the last 15 essentially in exile as he dealt with the fallout from child-abuse charges. He returned in 2015 and led the league in rushing with 1,485 yards, becoming only the third player to lead the league in rushing at 30 years or older. Last year, he averaged just 1.9 yards on 37 carries.

Peterson’s limitations in the passing game were well known in Minnesota. His struggles with fumbling the ball also was an issue that went further back than his lost fumble late in the playoff loss to Seattle following the 2015 season.

Saints fans will remember a certain NFC title game that sent their team to a Super Bowl title during the 2009 season. In that NFC title game, which the Saints won in overtime, the Vikings outplayed New Orleans in all facets except turnovers. They turned the ball over five times and were minus-4 in turnover ratio.

The Vikings fumbled the ball six times, losing three fumbles. Peterson ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns, but fumbled twice. Another lost fumble, which was credited to quarterback Brett Favre, came during a handoff exchange with Peterson.

Vikings fans won’t have to wait long to see how motivated Peterson is to prove everybody wrong, just like he did in 2012 when he topped 2,000 yards just months after tearing his left ACL in a gruesome injury at Washington on Christmas Eve.

The Saints will be paying a visit on Sept. 11. And it appears they’ll be bringing a very familiar face.

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