Vikings must choose a running back by pick 114 in the 2019 NFL Draft

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

With the Minnesota Vikings installing a new offensive scheme being that will establish the run to set up the pass, the team will need to draft a solid running back to join Dalvin Cook in the backfield.

The Vikings haven’t had a truly impressive running attack since 2015. In that year, they rushed for 2211 yards behind 30-year-old Adrian Peterson.

Unfortunately, at the end of that season, Peterson came up with 45 yards on 23 carries (and one very crucial fumble) in a heartbreaking home playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The next year, Peterson went down early and the Vikings fell 26 spots in the NFL rushing rank–actually rushing for over 1000 yards less–with Matt Asiata and “Jet” McKinnon as the team’s primary ball-carriers.

In 2017, they signed Latavius Murray from Oakland and drafted Dalvin Cook from Florida State. This looked good on paper and good on the field until Cook tore his ACL in Week 4, and Minnesota was left with just Murray and McKinnon again. Still, through offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s stubborn run-first mentality, they jumped back up to a number seven rush ranking, compiling 1957 yards on the ground.

In 2018? Yep, you guessed it. Back to the crapper. With fly-boy John DeFilippo arriving to usher the Vikings to a home Super Bowl, Minnesota looked like a team again slipping in the bathtub, ranking 30th in the league with under 1500 yards total on the ground.

Today, the Vikings are preparing for the 2019 college draft. Latavius Murray has signed with New Orleans, and Minnesota is now left with Mike Boone, Roc Thomas, and C.J. Ham backing up Dalvin Cook.

Wait. I forgot Ameer Abdullah, whose 1257 career yards have been on 327 carries, a 3.8 average.

Running To Win

The Minnesota Vikings may have several offensive needs, but running back should be no farther than second on that list.

The Viking front office had brought in Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison to aid offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and Minnesota’s commitment to run the football effectively. They began this task by releasing Mike Remmers, signing former Tennessee Titans guard Josh Kline, and no doubt doing a comprehensive examination of college offensive linemen that will improve the Viking ground game.

But let’s not lose the trees for the forest here. Dalvin Cook has missed 17 games in his two professional seasons, Abdullah has shown that he is the illustration of NFL mediocrity, and Boone and Thomas have a combined NFL resume of a few big plays in preseason games, countless hours in the trainer’s tub, and one story in the press about marijuana possession.

Because no free agent running backs visited Minnesota due to their tight cap numbers, Murray’s departure has left a big hole in the Vikings’ backfield platoon.

They must draft a running back no later than their pick 114 in the fourth round.

Thinking that a more stable and resilient offensive line will be enough to charge the Vikings’ run game and leaving this pick until day 3 of the draft will be a mistake. A mistake that reminds me of names like Andre Smith and Alex Boone, T.J. Clemmings and Willie Beavers.

Point being: mistakes in signing and trying to develop certain players have cost the Vikings crucial time and energy that cost them wins in previous football seasons. The Vikings need a back that can help them now. No projects.

They need a reliable and smart player who is able to muster short gains in Kubiak’s zone run scheme, catch the ball adequately and pass protect fairly well. He doesn’t have to be a game breaker. That will be Dalvin Cook’s job.

Making the call on this pick will be difficult. I see players like Mike Weber from OSU, Miles Sanders from Penn State, Devine Ozigbo (a big back), and Jordan Scarlett from Florida as guys who could contribute immediately at the NFL level for the Vikings.

Must Read. 5 quarterbacks the Vikings could draft. light

Rick Spielman should defer to Coach Kubiak on this draft pick. As old Bill Parcells once said, If Kubiak and Dennison have been brought onboard to make the meal–and they have–they should be shopping for the groceries.