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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No. 8

Darrin Nelson (1982 - 1992)

Stats with Vikings:

  • 129 games (68 starts)
  • 4,231 rushing yards (4.3 yards per carry)
  • 18 rushing touchdowns
  • 251 catches, 2,202 receiving yards (8.8 yards per catch)
  • 5 receiving touchdowns

After a disappointing 1981 season in which they finished fourth in their division with a 7-9 record, the Vikings headed into the 1982 NFL Draft with the No. 7 overall pick.

With their selection, Minnesota decided to pass on former USC running back and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen in favor of Darrin Nelson, who had an outstanding college career at Stanford under head coach Bill Walsh.

Nelson's rookie year with the Vikings wasn't much to talk about, thanks to a strike-shortened season. But after that, he eventually established himself as a reliable dual-threat as a rusher and a receiver out of the backfield in Minnesota's offense.

Midway through the 1989 season, Nelson wound up being included in the trade with the Dallas Cowboys that resulted in the Vikings acquiring running back Herschel Walker.

Nelson didn't even play a single down for the Cowboys, and after a brief stint with the San Diego Chargers, he ended up back with Minnesota in 1991 for the final two seasons of his NFL career.