Minnesota Vikings Draft Targets: Running Backs

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James Williams
SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 28: James Williams #32 of the Washington State Cougars hurdles Brian Peavy #10 of the Iowa State Cyclones in the first half during the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome on December 28, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings have lost valuable running backs in each of the last two free agency periods. Jerick McKinnon left for San Francisco in 2018, and Latavius Murray headed to New Orleans back in March. With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, the Vikings must find a replacement to help behind Dalvin Cook.

Dalvin Cook will be the lead back for Minnesota this upcoming season. However, there are a ton of question marks after that. Ameer Abdullah was brought back on a one-year deal, but he did nothing last season with the Vikings. The other two backs on the roster showed promise last pre-season, but haven’t proven to be viable backups. Both Roc Thomas and Mike Boone will compete to be RB3, but the Vikings need a clear-cut backup that can carry the ball consistently when Cook takes a breather.

Not to mention Dalvin Cook has battled injuries in each of his two seasons in the NFL. If the Vikings want to succeed in 2019, they need an insurance plan in case that trend continues. So, here are some guys they can target late in the draft that will come in and make an immediate impact. Note that early-round names aren’t listed because Minnesota will probably invest those picks in other positions.

Minnesota Vikings Running Back Draft Targets

James Williams, Washington State

James Williams might be the most intriguing running back in the draft. He has an innate ability to make defenders miss in space. If he is given the ball on the outside, whether on a swing pass or an outside carry, he can burst around the edge and wreak havoc. Williams is also a very good receiving weapon out of the backfield and he has the ability to change the game from that standpoint. While he isn’t the most effective runner when given the ball up the gut, his explosive ability makes him well worth a draft pick. His size may limit him a little bit at the next level, but he can be a very good complementary back in the right system.

Tony Pollard, Memphis

If you want a versatile playmaker, look no further than Tony Pollard. He is listed as a running back but has the ability to move all around the offense and make plays from anywhere. He offers a ton of explosion and big-play potential, which is perfect for a late-round selection.

The concern with Pollard is that he thrives off of manufactured touches but isn’t great at naturally generate those touches, but running backs are basically always fed the ball purposely. Pollard doesn’t present the greatest speed, either, so his agility will be called upon quite a bit. The Vikings could easily take a flyer on Pollard at the end of the draft and use him in wildcat or on sweeps to bring life to the offense.

Jalin Moore, Appalachian State

Jalin Moore is one of the hardest working prospects in the entire class. He throws himself around on blocks and gives his full effort on every snap, which is all you can ask for out of a rookie. While Moore might not be the most explosive athlete, he will fight for every last yard. Dalvin Cook will get the majority of the touches out of the backfield, but Moore is a perfect fit to spell him and protect the passer.

Jordan Scarlett, Florida

If the Vikings want to take a big risk, Jordan Scarlett is a name that should catch their eye. Scarlett missed the entire 2017 season due to suspension, raising a huge red flag. On the field, Scarlett is a dangerous runner. He rarely goes down on the first contact and makes sure to keep his feet moving. One plus from his suspension is that there is limited tread on his tires. Scarlett isn’t a great pass catcher, nor does he have great speed in space, but he is going to get a few yards with each carry.

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