The running back is an interesting position for the Minnesota Vikings. They were in a position to release Dalvin Cook, but offseason shoulder surgery made that a little bit difficult.
On the roster right now, the Vikings have Cook, a re-signed Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu. Even with all these players on the roster, going after a running back in this class feels like a smart move. Why? It’s incredibly deep.
As we head towards the NFL draft starting on Thursday, April 27th, here is a running back from each round that the Vikings have a draft pick.
1st round: Texas' Bijan Robinson
The Vikings are extremely unlikely to take Robinson due to their other needs and current roster. The talent that Robinson has is better than any running back over the last few years. He is a special talent combining great vision, power, burst and evasiveness. Robinson also has a knack for catching the football and playing like a wide receiver.
3rd round: UCLA's Zach Charbonnet
The former Michigan Wolverine kept getting lost in the shuffle so he transferred to UCLA before the 2021 season and he broke out in a big way. He and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson were a dominant force in the Bruins backfield.
More of a throwback, Charbonnet is built like a tank and it makes him incredibly difficult to bring down. He pairs it really good vision and a quick burst to get through the hole.
4th round: Ole Miss' Zach Evans
A former five-star recruit, Evans has the explosiveness that you want from a running back. He sees the hole relatively well and can cut to hit the backside on a dime. He has the home-run ability to outrun defenders on the third level of the defense, but he’s available here due to his sub-par receiving and blocking abilities. If those were closer to average, Evans would be going higher in this class.
5th round: Oklahoma's Eric Gray
A former four-star recruit, Gray finally got to be the lead back after transferring from Tennessee. He handled the majority of the workload and did a good job in doing so. Gray showed improvement in his vision all season. He displays patience and quick feet which help him burst through the hole. His size might be a deterrent to some, but Gray is built well for a player that is 5’9″ tall.
6th round: Kansas State's Deuce Vaughn
I am not somebody who worries too much about size when it comes to running backs. If you can play and have the strength, athleticism and skills to be successful, I usually don’t care too much about height. With Vaughn, you have to.
At 5’5″ tall, he is the shortest player to ever measure in at the NFL Scouting Combine. What you have to figure out for yourself is whether or not you believe his abiilty to do things like pass block (something he did well at Kansas State) will translate. I think that teams will let him slide down in the draft and a team can get a real gem at the end of day three.