No, undrafted rookie fullback Zach Line will not be replacing Toby Gerhart this season. Gerhart still has one year left on his rookie contract, but given his success as a backup he will likely be sought after by more than a few NFL teams come next offseason. The Minnesota Vikings barely took a chance when they invited Line to training camp as they would have more than one opportunity to cut him if he wasn’t good enough, but so far they have had no choice to but keep him.
What the Vikings didn’t account for with Line is his running ability. Despite him approaching Eric Dickerson‘s all-time rushing mark while playing at Southern Methodist University, they brought him in as a fullback instead of halfback. Heads turned quickly, however, when Line broke free for a 61-yard touchdown reception in his first preseason game and showed the ability to read blockers as well as shed tackles on his way down the field.
Making a roster is about impact plays, and Line had the ultimate impact play when he ran for that touchdown. While that play doesn’t guarantee him a roster spot just yet, the depth chart situation makes it appear as if he will make the roster as a backup fullback. This will be fine for Line’s first season in the league as he can use this time to gain more strength and improve his blocking, both of which could be crucial if he becomes the Vikings’ second string running back next season.
Line would primarily be relied on to give Adrian Peterson breaks during the game like Gerhart currently does, but if Line is able to become a reliable blocker this season he could find himself earning third and long reps in the future primarily as a blocking back. Line likely won’t make anymore huge plays this season as his role will be very limited, but the future does look bright for the undrafted rookie who appears to not only have a job in the NFL but also the chance to earn some touches in the future.