I mentioned earlier this week that I had my own unique theory on which running back the Vikings should target this offseason.  My answer is a simple one:  The best one available.

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is the only first round lock runner in the class, and it just so happens he will probably be selected much, much later.

Lattimore took the college game by storm and is easily the most complete back available this year.  He runs with explosion between the tackles, is dangerous in space, is a fluid pass catcher and capable blocker, and is a smart runner with a patience to follow his blockers that is rarely seen in young backs.  He is also known to be of high character and as a guy that leads by example.

He actually reminds me, at least in part, of our very own Adrian Peterson.

To find Lattimore’s Achilles heal, however, you need not look any farther than his knee.  When the all star runner hit the turf in pain this October, the football watching community collectively expressed their sympathy for a runner they enjoyed watching so much.

Lattimore’s ligament damage in his knee left many wondering if he would ever play football again and his availability for 2013 seemed to be in major doubt, at the very least.  He fell from the top 15 to the fifth round with that one ugly hit.  The snake-bitten running back also suffered ligament damage one year earlier, prematurely ending that season as well.

So why do I think he is such a great fit for the Vikings?  Well, for starters, because I think the Vikings are a great fit for him.

The Vikings are fairly stacked at running back, with Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart cemented atop the depth chart for next season, so the Vikings could perhaps be the one NFL team willing to be patient while Lattimore rehabs his knee.

Lattimore would also have a constant source of inspiration and encouragement simply by watching Adrian Peterson, who famously worked his way back from a gruesome knee injury and topped 2,000 yards on the season.  He could be comforted by the fact that Eric Sugarman and the Vikings trainers are the same exact people that helped Peterson not only make his return, but come back even better than he already was.

Even if Lattimore turned out to be facing the worst case scenario, not being able to play in 2013, the Vikings could easily stash him on the injured reserve for a year and get him into the lineup in 2014 after Gerhart presumably becomes a free agent.

At some point I think Adrian Peterson will start to slow down and instead of being a one man show, perhaps a tandem like Peterson and Lattimore could help him elongate his career by being one half of a great backfield duo.

As of right now, with so many worries about the injuries, Lattimore is projected to go no earlier than the fourth round.  The Vikings can’t afford to spend much more money or use too high of a draft pick on the running back position, with other areas in need of help, but the can surely can afford to use a fourth or fifth round pick for a guy that is well known to be a first round talent with Peterson-like problems.

23 COMMENTS

  1. I like it Adam. Lattimore could be great if he gets and stays healthy but that’s a big if. I would take him with our 5th rounder but nothing sooner because i doubt this kid will ever play again, altho if he does, definite SOD.

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  2. I’ve thought the same thing on Lattimore but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team use a late third on him, especially if a team with a need at RB lands a third round comp pick. If he does make it through the third, the Vikes have Detroits early 4th round pick to play with, and if the medical staff thinks he will recover I’ld be on board with that pick. I’ld be more comfortable in the 5th, but I don’t think he’ll last that long. McGahee was still a 1st rounder after shredding his knee in the national championship, but Lattimore now has two major knee injuries on his resume and will likely have a short shelf life in the NFL. It really would be a great fit for him to go the the Vikes where AD could take him under his wing and end up giving them both a chance to play longer than they would carrying the rock on their own.

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    • Watch lattimore’s injury its a lot more gruesome… But he could rebound and be great. That said i think a rb needy team would take him before us like you said (gb, ne, stl, az, ect…)

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    • agree.. But I still think we have to many needs to fill before taking him, so I don’t think we should target him in the 4th already. If he’s gone by the 5th round so be it, there might be some teams who really wants him

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  3. I would let him sit for most of the year, if we did indeed draft him. I’m just wondering how good is he pass protection, and catching the football, because if your are behind Adrian Peterson on the depth chart, you have to do the things he don’t.. AD is a runner and not much of a catcher.

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  4. I would agree that the Vikings would be a good fit for Lattimore or a back with his skill set. Yes, the Vikings maybe stacked at the RB postion but they have not addressed the need for a 3rd down back for a long time. In the last 4 years the Vikings have addressed other needs- selecting 8 DB, 5 LB, 5 OL, 4 WR, 3 DE, 3 TE, 2 QB, 1 RB, 1 DT.

    For some of you that keep complaining about other needs… name me a better value player “BPA” option in the late 3rd early forth round range than a RB like Marcus Lattimore or Joseph Randle.

    Based on our last 4 years with Spielman involved in the draft, I think DT, RB, and WR have not been selected as much as other areas. I look for Spielman to be targeting those ares.

    Yes, I think Spielman will start looking for a RB anywhere from the back of the 3rd round thru the 7th round.

    The good news is this draft class is loaded with pass catching RBs:
    Andre Ellington
    Marcus Lattimore
    Joseph Randle
    Mike Gillislee
    Johnathan Franklin
    Kenjon Barner
    Ray Graham
    Rex Burkhead
    Kerwynn Williams

    Doug Martin was projected as a 3-5 round guy at this point last year and the Bucs selected him in the 1st round.

    The backs that can also show they can excell in pass protection will surely catch Spielman’s eye. I will not be surprised if the Vikings selected a back in the 3rd round if it is a guy Spielman covets.

    I would take Lattimore!

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    • still there is a reason why we don’t draft that many RB. that reason is AD. When you have that guy you simply don’t really need many other RB’s.
      I still think taken a Lattimore or Joseph Randle in the 4rd round is way to high. The difference one of them will do compared to the differnece say a Kasheem Green, Larry Warford, Markus Wheaton, Quinton Patton is to big in my opinion. I know you are very high on getting on a 3rd down RB, but I just think he will very ralely see the field especially when we still have Toby Gerhart on the team, he barely gets more than 2-3 touches pr game

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      • Mistake I meant the 3rd round not the fourth, I doubt those guys are avaliable in the 4th.
        But as you said I think taking a RB in the 3rd is to early. Especially since we need to adress: WR, DT and LB.

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  5. I agree Lattimore is the most complete back … when healthy he has top 25 value… Dr Andrews says his recovery is going very well.

    This kid will be drafted between 50-75 range.

    Malte- you keep saying that the 3rd or 4th round is too high for a running back but you never throw out a player that would impact the Vikings that might have more value.

    At pick 85 you will not find the value at WR or DT or CB or LB that you will at RB.
    Look at the options-
    Cobi Hamilton- WR
    Jamie Collins -LB
    Bacarri Rambo – S
    Alvin Bailey -OG
    Kenny Stills- WR
    David Bakhtiari – OT/OG
    Akeem Spence – DT
    Nico Johnson – LB
    Brandon Williams – DT
    Jordan Hill – DT

    The Vikings would be plum silly to pass on “Game Changers” like Lattimore or Joseph Randle. Especially if we trade Harvin… And if Gerhart moves on as a free agent after this year.

    Malte- have an open mind! Name the last time a 3rd round pick for the Vikings was a first year starter? No way we find a rookie starter at LB or DT in the late 3rd round.

    That in my mind is a good spot to take an explosive RB.

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    • The reasoning behind not taking a RB is that it’s simply is a luxury pick. In the first year he will have small to zero impact on the game. Also good Running backs are to be found in the last part of the draft. Time after time some good running back is taken in the back end of the draft. There is a reason why running backs rarely gets chosen in the top 5 – top 10 anymore. They can be found in the 5-7 round of the draft. Unless it’s some kind of Adrian Peterson type player I don’t think it’s worth it, especially this year with Toby gerhart still on the team.

      – it’s not that I don’t have an open mind but I want us to adress one of the many needs we have.. I would rather have us take a chance on a prospect falling at other position.
      Quinton Patton could be avaiable. Markus Wheaton, Some good gaurd like Larry Warford could be there. It’s a very very deep DT class so there could still be DT talent avaliable in the 3rd round..
      It’s not like I hate running backs, but I think it’s overdrafting a RB when you have 1 great / godlike RB, a decent starter and a very capable backup sitting behind him (Yes Matt Asiata) he is good enough as a backup, not starter though.
      But when you have all that talent on your team I think drafting a RB is close to a waste..
      A RB will be lucky to just get 3 touches per game in the first year, and in the 2nd year it’s not even clear if he will get more touches..
      Toby Gerhart had 70 touches in 2012 that is less than 5 touches per game.. And he even spelled AD early on because they very carefull with him due to his knee.
      I don’t see anyway a 3rd round pick will get more touches than Gerhart got this year.

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      • Malte- I understand what you are saying but… you can not turn your nose up to the best player available concept.

        A 3rd round DT will not be able to step in and beat out Letroy Guion and Christian Ballard… DTs we have already spent draft picks on.

        If we go DT it will be in the first 2 rounds… If DT is best player available, I am ok with it. But I think the Vikings will resign K Williams and sign a cheap free agent and continue with the rotational system with Guion, Ballard, and E Griffen for 1 more year if needed. I don’t see this as a major need. The Vikings have already spent alot of draft picks on D line guys.

        Quinton Patton is looking great at the senior bowl … he will not be available with pick #85. If he is, Yes, I would love to have him. Johnathan Banks says he is the best CB he has played agianst.

        Yes, Toby didn’t get many touches… that is not the area we need to improve on.

        We need a RB that can catch, and block in the passing game.

        Malte- “News Flash” Our pass offense is ranked 31st in the league. We need guys that can catch the ball!

        A running back that can line up and play WR at times could be just as valuable as a WR that can line up in the backfield like (Percy Harvin).

        What the Vikings do in free agency with Harvin, Brinkley, Loadholt, Henderson, Simpson, Sanford and Matt Asiata will really effect the way the Vikings draft.

        I like a pass catching running back because:
        We need to improve our pass offense
        Harvin could be traded (he plays like a RB at times)
        Gerhart only has 1 more year as a Viking
        Matt Asiata is a free agent (#3 back)

        Taking a guard in the 3rd round will not improve our pass offense as much as a game breaking running back . C Johnson may not be a fan favorite but he is an OK guard. Our Oline did a great job this year. It is not a pressing need in my opinion.

        Malte- I love your skillful debating on this running back topic… I can’t wait to see what the Vikings do.

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  6. Adam love seeing the draft speculation, keep it coming. Good theory on Lattimore because the RB needy type teams need someone that can start and play right away, and there are plenty of options for them. Good chance this guy drops because of his injury risk, and would be a great fit if the Vikes staff feels good about his ability to come back at full strength.

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    • what? okay this makes zero sence what so ever. Not to be a jerk or something but I see a very good gaurd giving us ten times the chance to improve than drafting a RB that will hardly ever see the field. Also a lot of good WR has been found in the 3rd or later rounds. If you don’t takes a chance on some of these WR you’ll never find any good onces. Also this is a draft with many decent WR but no clear cut #1 onces, that means talent are to be found in the 2nd-4th round.

      With they way vikings offense is built I find it highly unlikely that we will have running backs at WR position and let them run routes, we very rarely did that last year and I don’t think that the way Musgrave likes to run the offense.
      Also Toby Gerhart is not by any way a bad 3rd down back. He is a very reliable pass protecter for a RB as he has very good hands. He is good at knowing where the 1st down marker is and gets the job done. I wouldn’t want to remove him from the field since I think he is quiet good at that job. He still has a whole year left on his contract so I think it’s very early to replace him .. to replace A BACKUP with a 3rd round pick.

      Seriously this is what concerns me the most.. We spend a 3rd round draft pick on a backup’s backup.. I understand you can’t always find starters in the first round, but to atleast, atleast go fid a backup at a position where depth is a major concern (as in ILB or WLB where we currently have close to none depth) or go look at WR where the depth will be really thin (especially if harvin is traded) Then We have Wright, Childs as our #1 and #2 receivers, since I don’t really think highly of J. simpson, S. Burton or D. aramoaushda (I know it’s spelled wrong, still don’t really care). Then we desperately need depth at WR and it would be even more foolish to waste a pick on a backup’s backup..

      It’s not that I think drafting a RB will make the team worse, but I just don’t see what one of these guys adds to our offense that we don’t already have in Peterson or Gerhart.. I wouldn’t mind spending a late round pick on a shifty RB to groom, but you’ll expect a 3rd round to contribute right away and I just don’t see that any of these RB will do that-

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  7. I would love the pick!!

    I actually disagree with people saying he will go to a running back needy team. Look at the amount of running backs from lower rounds that make instant impacts. Needy teams will be looking for one of those, not a player that may take a year or two to truly help them. I think teams like the Vikings who have a clear cut starter are more likely to take a chance on him (or the Pats… Cause it’s the Pats)

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    • yea but the pats doesn’t have any 4th 5h or 6th round draft picks this year so they’ll have to take him in the 3rd if the want him.

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      • Awesome conversation going on down here! Good debate. In fact, I’ll aim to give my opinion on the matter in a post tonight. Obviously, I don’t agree with Malte on this one or I wouldn’t have suggested we draft Lattimore in the first place, but my reasoning is going to be a little different I think.

        For the sake of the current conversation, however, let me ask this question Malte: Wouldn’t your philosophy of drafting for needs and looking for value at RB in later rounds as an absolute rule have resulted in AD being drafted by another team?

        Remember, the decision to draft Adrian was NOT the no-brainier everyone now likes to pretend it was. Chester Taylor was coming off a great first year in Minny, plenty of other needs existed, and Peterson had plenty of durability questions.

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        • I hardly doubt there will be any Adrian Petersons in the 3rd round. However our situation is neither like that case.
          It’s not that I think you should only adress your needs but I wouldn’t want to draft a guy who won’t be nothing but a backup (if drafting early). Everybody knew AD was a featured back and he would be the starter in years to come.
          I’m not against drafting good talents if it is to fall, but there simply are some possitions that we simply cannot afford to draft as of right now (atleast early on) and I think running back is just one of those positions. I wouldn’t want us to draft another OT (granted Phil L. resign with us) early on. He would be nothing but a backup and wouldn’t make a difference on our team.
          With Adrian Peterson on the team we only need a pass catching RB and I think that Gerhart more than capable to be that kind of back. I wouldn’t mind us taking a guy that we can develop behind Gerhart and have him ready for next year, when Gerhart will hit free Agency.
          But with our many needs over RB (WR, DT, LB (both weakside and middle), CB, OG) I think it’s close to impossible that there isn’t a talent on the big board with similar grade as a running back when we are on the claock in the 3rd round.

          Lets say the vikings had a running back in the mold of: Ryan Matthews, Steven Ridley, The Lawfirm. Very avarage guys, but still solid in their craft.. Then I would be all for taking a good RB should he be avaiable at the 3rd round. Or if a good RB felt and had a top 10 talent I would also snag him up in the middle / late part of the first round.

          I just think drafting a RB in the 3rd is like drafting a OT in the 3rd (still assuming loadholt stays) – nearly a waste of a pick.

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    • so there is still a chance we can pick him up in the 4-5th round if he’s still there.. I think it’s too early to pick him in the 3rd with our current RB sittuation.

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  8. I don’t think I would draft Lattimore in the third because I do view him as a pretty big injury risk. The 4th round was the injury risk round and that’s where I would feel like he’s the type of talent that you don’t pass up at that point (unless your medical people tell you those knees are gonna snap the first time he gets hit). Our offense is predicated on having a strong running game, and I disagree with the people that are saying we have great depth at that position. Toby is not a good spot player at all. He would be much better as a wear down the defense with 30 carries guy than the spot player the Vikings use him as. I don’t understand why people say he’s a great pass protector, he was supposed to be, but I really don’t think he’s not much better than AD in that role. Oh, and he’s also going to be an ex-Viking after this season, so they do need to find another guy to bring in. In a perfect World they would make like the Saints and bring in an undrafted guy who rocks, but I won’t kill them for taking a back at some point on day three if they have someone rated highly.

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  9. I would think even a 3rd round pick for him, if he is recovering ok, would be a good pick. We need a back up for AD. Gerhart is a different style runner than AD. Vikes need a 3rd down back.

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  10. Adam, I was waiting for this article since you gave us a tease awhile back. I was hoping, it was Lattimore, you were thinking about.

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