Vikings Need No. 2
The value of the running back position has been diminished in recent years but running backs matter a lot more when you don’t have a good one.
The Vikings found this out last season when they released Dalvin Cook and replaced him with Alexander Mattison. While both backs had a similar success rate in 2022, Mattison was exposed with a larger sample size and became the first starting running back (min.180 carries) with no touchdowns since Melvin Gordon failed to reach the end zone during his rookie year in 2015.
But the lack of a running game wasn’t just Mattison’s fault.
Ty Chandler had his moments but was too inconsistent to find playing time. DeWayne McBride was given a starting grade last offseason but failed to make the team out of training camp. Trade acquisition Cam Akers tore his Achilles in November, and the Vikings wound up 29th in rushing yards last season.
Kevin O’Connell could opt to change his blocking scheme to aid this problem – as Sean McVay did with the Los Angeles Rams to unleash Kyren Williams this past season – but it might also require more talent in the backfield to get things going.
The depressed value of running backs could make Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler, or D’Andre Swift affordable, or the Vikings could take a big swing to land Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, or Derrick Henry.
The draft could also bring a solution as Oregon’s Bucky Irving, Notre Dame’s Audric Estime, and USC’s MarShawn Lloyd could be targeted in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.
Whatever the Vikings do, they’ll have to find a way to create a more efficient running game in 2024.