15 greatest Minnesota Vikings running backs of all-time

Former Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook
Former Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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15 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Running Backs of All-Time

15. Leroy Hoard (1996 - 1999)

After spending his first six years in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, Leroy Hoard landed with the Minnesota Vikings in the middle of the 1996 season.

Brought in to help replace an injured Robert Smith, Hoard started the final six games of the 1996 campaign for Minnesota. He rushed for 420 yards and three touchdowns during this stretch that ultimately helped the Vikings clinch a spot in the playoffs.

Minnesota re-signed Hoard during the 1997 offseason, and he wound up spending the remaining three years of his NFL career in the Twin Cities.

At 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, Hoard was never a running back who beat defenders with his speed, but he had no problem running over an opponent or two if he had to. The Vikings used his physical running style to their advantage, as 20 of his 27 rushing touchdowns happened on plays that began five yards or closer to the opposing goal line.

14. Michael Bennett (2001 - 2005)

After a surprise retirement by Robert Smith after the 2000 season, the Vikings found themselves in need of a new starting running back in 2001.

To help make up for the loss of Smith, Minnesota decided to use their first-round selection in the 2001 NFL Draft on former Wisconsin running back Michael Bennett. The Vikings fell in love with Bennett's elite speed (4.38-second 40-time), and they believed he could add another element to an offense that already featured Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper.

After a decent rookie season, Bennett exploded in 2002, as he gained 1,647 yards from scrimmage (1,296 rushing yards and 351 receiving yards) and scored six touchdowns. His performance that season resulted in the only Pro Bowl selection of his career.

Bennett remained in Minnesota for three more years until he signed with the New Orleans Saints during the 2006 offseason.

13. Jerick McKinnon (2014 - 2017)

Following the suspension of Adrian Peterson during the early part of the 2014 season, the Vikings were forced to utilize rookie Jerick McKinnon quicker than they likely anticipated. Luckily for Minnesota, McKinnon was able to provide solid production in the team's backfield, including a Week 4 performance against the Atlanta Falcons when he rushed for 135 yards.

His snaps took a dip in 2015 when Peterson returned, but in 2016 and 2017, McKinnon established himself as a great change-of-pace running back for the Vikings.

His play in 2017 was the most impressive, as he and Latavius Murray combined to help Minnesota finish with seventh-best rushing offense in the NFL despite losing Dalvin Cook in Week 4.