Adrian Peterson’s career in Minnesota has seen it’s ups and down and now it may be coming to its conclusion. Despite holding nearly every Viking’s rushing record we may have seen the end of Peterson’s tenure with Minnesota. The Vikings hold a team option for the 31 year old running back worth 11.75 million dollars in base pay and a six million dollar roster bonus due to Peterson if he is on the Viking’s roster come March 9th of this year. With several glaring holes on their roster Minnesota has to weight the pros and cons of bringing back or cutting ties with one of the franchises most productive players.
If Minnesota were to let Peterson go they would have a huge need at the running back position. In house they have Matt Asiata and Jerrick McKinnon. Both saw extensive time last season while Peterson was injured and both failed to impress. Combined they averaged a paltry 3.3 yards per carry and neither back has rushed for more than 570 yards in a season. Both backs should be seen as role players and not every down backs. The upcoming draft class is loaded at the running back position and despite not having a first round pick the Vikings could come away with a stud back in the mid-rounds. Here are five possibilities: Perine, Gallman, Mixon, Hunt, Connor
1. Samaje Perine, 5’11 237, Oklahoma
The former Sooner and D-1 single game rushing record holder has had a very successful career at Oklahoma much like Peterson did a decade ago. Perine is a throwback power runner who excels between the tackles. Perine’s decisiveness behind the line of scrimmage would be refreshing for Vikings fans who have seen far too much dancing behind the line by Peterson in recent seasons.
Where to get him: 2nd-3rd Round
2. Wayne Gallman, 6’1 215, Clemson
Gallman has been a huge part of Clemson’s impressive offense the last two seasons despite being overshadowed by the Tiger’s quarterback DeShaun Watson. Gallman is a versatile back capable of running inside while also attacking the edge. His suddenness and burst are very impressive and make him a threat to score on every touch. His receiving skills are also very good though pass protection is a big question mark.
Where to get him: 2nd-3rd Round
3. Kareem Hunt, 5’11 215, Toledo
Some Viking’s fans might remember the last Toledo running back to be featured in their offense, Chester Taylor who had some very good seasons in Minnesota and Hunt is a new and improved Rocket. Hunt finished up a prolific career at Toledo and is one of the more productive backs in a loaded class this season. Hunt is about as well rounded a back as you will find thanks to his strong compact frame, above average athleticism and excellent vision. Hunt also showed improvement in his senior season as a pass catcher and with the emphasis on the passing game has certainly helped his stock.
Where to get him: 3rd-4th Round
4. Donnell Pumphrey, 5’9 190, San Diego State
In case you missed it Pumphrey broke Ron Dayne’s career rushing yard record this last season and despite his small stature could be a big time playmaker at the next level. Pumphrey odds of having a longer than expected career are much higher now than say 10 years ago due to the NFL being a two back league and Pumphrey’s excellent vision and skills in space. He excels at avoiding big hits and has far less wear than once would expect from a player with his number of carries. His ability to contribute in the passing and return game could make him a desirable later round option for the Vikings who could use an upgrade over McKinnon anyways in that department.
Where to get him: 5th-7th Round
5. Joe Mixon, 6’1 220, Oklahoma
Off-field issues aside Mixon would be a surefire first round pick but alas the video of him punching out a young women is about as damning evidence against a prospect I have ever seen. His exclusion from the NFL Combine also hurts as teams will have to wait until his pro day or team visits to get a chance to sit down with him. Never the less there are rumors swirling around the draft community that Mixon will in fact be drafted and potentially higher than many think. The Vikings have dealt with a talent but troubled Sooner running back before in Peterson and could kick the tires on one once again. His talent says he should be drafted yet his actions certainly do not.
Where to get him: 5th-UDFA