NFL Draft: 5 Players Who Could Be Adrian Peterson’s Backup In 2014
5 Players Who Can Be Adrian Peterson's Backup In 2014
Toby Gerhart has proven to be a very serviceable backup during his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings, and because of it, he will likely be leaving the team for a better opportunity to play next season. Although Matt Asiata saw playing time in the absence of Gerhart and Adrian Peterson this season, the Vikings will be looking elsewhere to find a backup for the electric, but aging No. 28.
Because Peterson will be demanding the large majority of the carries next season, it doesn’t make sense for the Vikings to be looking toward free agency to replace the departing Gerhart. They instead will be looking at the draft, in hopes of finding a late-round option that can step in and play from the start.
The Vikings could go in a few different directions when looking for Peterson’s backup as they will need a third down back that excels in pass protection, but they also could target a smaller and shiftier back that is a true receiving threat out of the backfield.
With the numerous defensive positions the Vikings will try and upgrade through the draft, a running back likely won’t be on their radar until the fourth-round or later. This means their options are limited, but with plenty of current NFL backs like Arian Foster and Alfred Morris coming into the league as an afterthought, the Vikings very well could find a star running back in one of the five players I mention in the slides that follow.
No. 5 Tyler Gaffney
Why not replace one big-bodied Stanford running back with another? Gerhart attended Stanford, and Tyler Gaffney is a 226-pound senior running back out of the same Pac-12 program. Gaffney is one of the bigger backs in the upcoming class, and he would be able to take the third down duties upon entering the league. He only has one year of starting experience under his belt, but he averaged 5.3 yards per carry this season and scored 20 touchdowns, proving he could be a valuable asset when used in certain situations.
No. 4 James Wilder Jr.
Although just a junior, James Wilder Jr. reportedly told a Florida State recruit he plans on leaving for the NFL early. This is great news for the Vikings as Wilder has never been a feature back in college, meaning he has minimal wear on his body and his best days could be still to come. Wilder has a body very similar to Gaffney, and has an equally impressive 6.9 yards per carry average this season and will be playing in the National Championship game come Jan. 6.
No. 3 James White
James White isn’t nearly as big as the previous two backs, but that didn’t stop him from rushing for 1,337 and 13 touchdowns this year while also sharing carries with Melvin Gordon. Every team knew Wisconsin was going to run the ball down their throat, but White still excelled on the ground to the tune of a 6.4 yards per carry average. White also caught 37 passes for nearly 300 yards showing he’s a dual-threat back that could help the Vikings in more ways than one.
No. 2 Marion Grice
Marion Grice came into the 2013 season with lofty expectations, and prior to his leg injury, the senior lived up to the hype by totaling 1,434 total yards and 20 touchdowns. Grice is one of the most well-rounded running backs in the coming class as he is a proven runner, pass catcher and blocker. If it weren’t for the late season leg injury, Grice very well could have been one of the draft's top running backs selected, but now he may fall down draft boards a bit and be a late-round steal for the Vikings.
No. 1 De'Anthony Thomas
There is no denying it, De’Anthony Thomas is one of the most electric playmakers in all of college football. Although he missed four games due an ankle injury, Thomas put up an impressive 6.2 yards per carry average and is a real threat in the receiving game as well. Whether he lines up behind the quarterback or in the slot, Thomas is a player that has the ability to make a real difference in the NFL. Although he will never be a good blocking option, his skill set is something that cannot be ignored, and the Vikings would greatly benefit from having him, Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson on the field at the same time.