In theory, the Minnesota Vikings drafted Jerick McKinnon to be Adrian Peterson‘s backup. It makes sense on paper because McKinnon is indeed a running back, and the Vikings do have a backfield void to fill left by the departure of Toby Gerhart. The only problem is that speedy rookie isn’t exactly your prototypical backup RB.
McKinnon can fly like the wind and there’s no doubt Norv Turner will find a way to utilize his talents. But as for him fitting into the backup/third down back role, I’m not sold quite yet.
At 5-9 and 209 lbs., McKinnon has the right build to become reliable blocker in the backfield. But after playing quarterback for most of his college career, you really have to wonder how far away he is from being a legitimate NFL backup RB.
Right now it’s said that he’ll compete with Matt Asiata for the No. 2 spot behind AP. Other than that, no one is quite sure what role he’ll play.
“I think we’re going to find some things for him to do. He’s short in stature, but he’s got big legs and a big rear end. He’s got explosiveness, so I think we’ll find some things for him to do,” said Mike Zimmer via the Pioneer Press.
As of now you’d have to think Asiata is a better fit for the traditional backup role. He’s been around longer, and while he’s not exactly a great blocker, he’s got to be further along than McKinnon. However, you can’t coach talent, and McKinnon has way more natural ability than Asiata.
It’s safe to call Jerick McKinnon a project at this point. It’s all about potential with the 22-year old, not about what he can do right away. Now that he’s officially under contract, let the project begin. His ceiling is high, but it’s going to take a lot of work to mold him into a reliable NFL running back.