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

6. Bill Brown (1962 - 1974)

When it comes to great running backs in Vikings history, Bill Brown was certainly one of the first. Minnesota wasn't very good during their first few seasons of existence (established in 1961), but Brown was one of the few bright spots.

He actually began his NFL career with the Chicago Bears in 1961, and then he was eventually traded to the Vikings in 1962.

Brown's performance in 1964 is where he really began to shine for Minnesota. He rushed for 866 yards and seven touchdowns in addition to catching 48 passes for 703 yards and another nine scores. His play in 1964 resulted in the first of his four career Pro Bowl selections.

Brown remained the top guy in the Vikings' backfield until around 1970 when his usage took a dip. Eventually, Chuck Foreman took over the top spot on Minnesota's running back depth chart, and Brown's time with the team came to a close after the 1974 season.

Among every running back to play a snap for the Vikings, Brown ranks first in games played, second in rushing attempts, second in total touchdowns, fifth in rushing yards, and fourth in receptions.

5. Robert Smith (1993 - 2000)

Despite the fact that the Vikings selected him in the first round of the 1993 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Robert Smith's career with Minnesota didn't look too promising during his first few seasons with the team.

But then came the 1997 campaign when he set new single-season career highs for starts (14), rushing attempts (232), rushing yards (1,266), catches (37), receiving yards (197), and total touchdowns (7).

Then, during his next three years with Minnesota (1998 to 2000), Smith continued to perform like one of the top running backs in the entire league, rushing for over 1,000 yards each season and helping the Vikings earn a pair of NFC Championship appearances.

Smith surprised everyone, however, when he retired after the 2000 season at the age of 28. When he hung up his cleats, he left as Minnesota's all-time leader in career rushing yards. He currently ranks second in Vikings history in career rushing yards after his total was passed by Adrian Peterson in 2012.

4. Tommy Mason (1961-1966)

With their first-ever draft pick in the history of the franchise, the Vikings decided to use their selection on an offensive playmaker in former Tulane running back Tommy Mason.

Mason's rookie season in Minnesota wasn't anything worth remembering, but the stretch from 1962 to 1964 was really where he lived up to his expectations as a first-round draft pick.

The tandem of Bill Brown and Mason helped the Vikings have one of the top rushing offenses in the league for multiple seasons. Unfortunately, Minnesota's success on the ground didn't translate to wins more often than not, as they missed the playoffs in each of Mason's six years with the franchise.

Mason's tenure with the Vikings was a bit short, but when he was on the field for Minnesota during his career, he made sure to make the most of his opportunities whenever he got the football in his hands.