Note: Until the 2017 NFL draft starts April 27, we’ll take a look at where things stand at each Vikings position group. We’ll combine some in order to address as many as possible. Check for a new post each weekday.
If this were a Wonderlick question, we’d all pass.
The Vikings had three bonafide NFL-ready running backs. They subtracted two (Adrian Peterson and Matt Asiata). Then they added one (Latavius Murray).
That’s right. A need at running back.
Fortunately for the Vikings, this year’s NFL draft has been hyped as one of the best ever at the position.
Without a first-round pick, the Vikings likely will miss out on the classic power back (Leonard Fournette), the best three-down back (Dalvin Cook) and the best do-everything back (Christian McCaffrey). But even on Day 2, the options appear plentiful with the likes of Tennesee’s Alvin Kamara, Texas’ D’Onta Foreman and, yes, Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon, who comes with well-documented video evidence of his character concerns.
Murray, 27, is fresh enough to be a featured back. Jerick McKinnon, the Vikings’ third-round pick in 2014, is well-suited as a third-down back in Pat Shurmur’s pass-oriented system. But, ideally, the Vikings would like an explosive young runner to share the workload initially and take over when he hits his prime.
The Vikings have two other running backs: C.J. Ham and Bishop Sankey. But they’re developmental projects better suited for the practice squad as emergency replacements. The Vikings’ third back should be the team’s running back of the future.
Finding that guy could increase the team’s explosive plays, help a rebuilt offensive line and take the sting out of the Peterson joining the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday and making his debut against the Vikings in the season opener on Monday Night Football.
Projected starters: Latavius Murray at running back and Zach Line (currently unsigned) at fullback.
Don’t forget about: McKinnon. As a three-down back, he’s too small. As a third-down back, he could be ideal on a team that hopes to have a better offensive line and a more clearly defined attack in Shurmur’s first full season as offensive coordinator.
Level of need: High at running back, low at fullback.
Five prospects to remember: Possible Day 2 options: Kareem Hunt, Toledo; Joe Mixon, Oklahoma; D’Onta Foreman, Texas; Curtis Samuel, Ohio State; Alvin Kamara, Tennessee.
Our best guess: At some point on Day 2, the Vikings will select a running back and call him “the best available player on the board.” The only question is whether the Vikings will use their first pick (48th overall) or one of their two third-rounders on this obvious need.