The Vikings have a well-documented need at the quarterback position. Analysts have also pointed out that the Vikings could use an upgrade at the linebacker, cornerback and safety position as well. However, many have failed to recognize that the Vikings have little to no depth behind Adrian Peterson at the running back position.
During the offseason, former backup running back Toby Gerhart signed a lucrative multiyear contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the departure of Gerhart, only Peterson and third-year running back Matt Asiata remain on the Vikings’ depth chart at running back. If needed, second-year fullback Zach Line received carries at running back during his time at Southern Methodist University.
Asiata played well in the absence of Peterson and Gerhart last season, but he does not project as a full-time backup to Peterson in the future. Therefore, drafting a sufficient backup to Peterson should be considered a need if the Vikings wish to prolong the career of their franchise running back.
Enter former Auburn Tigers running back Tre Mason. Mason, a 2013 Heisman finalist, was one of the main reasons for the Tigers unexpected national title game appearance. Mason led all power-conference running backs with 23 rushing touchdowns. Also, his 317 rushing attempts and 1,816 rushing yards ranked fifth in NCAA football in 2013.
After an exceptional junior season, Mason elected to enter the NFL Draft. At the NFL combine, Mason showcased his athleticism by recording a 38.5-inch vertical leap and a solid 4.50 40-yard dash time.
Recently, Mason revealed that he would undergo post-draft wrist surgery to repair a chronic scaphoid fracture. This procedure is not expected to affect his draft position as he is scheduled to be ready for the NFL preseason. As a result, Mason is expected to hear his name called during the third or fourth round of the NFL Draft.
Mason’s skill set combined with his anticipated draft position makes for an ideal fit with the Vikings. Drafting Mason in the third round would solidify the running back position for the Vikings at a relatively cheap price.
In Mason, the Vikings would receive a young and talented running back who could help take the load off of Peterson while still giving the team competitive carries. This would not only help keep Peterson fresh during the 2014 season but likely prolong his career as well.
The Vikings hold the 72nd and 96th overall selections in the upcoming draft. Drafting Mason with one of these selections would prove beneficial for the Vikings, as it would fulfill a quiet need with a talented young prospect.