When the Vikings drafted running back Jerick McKinnon in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, they knew he held a lot of potential. And he’s living up to their expectations.
McKinnon is already gaining a lot of recognition, including most recently from star RB Adrian Peterson. When Mr. All Day himself calls you out as a solid player, that has to feel good.
According to the Star Tribune‘s Master Tesfatsion, Peterson named Georgia Southern alum as one of the guys impressing him the most this offseason.
“[McKinnon]’s pretty impressive and there’s not too many guys who impress me like that, especially rookies coming in,” Peterson said. “He’s been able to do some real good things in the offense, picking it up well and just his running style.”
You can bet McKinnon does not take this caliber of praise lightly. “When you’re learning from the best in the game, you really just got to take on everything and everything he says you got to listen to,” McKinnon said. “I just got to feed off him and all it to my game.”
Minnesota targeted the rookie in the draft for his versatility and impressive speed, GM Rick Spielman calling him “too good of an athlete to pass up.” McKinnon put up impressive numbers in college, tallying 3,899 yards on just 619 carries and scoring 42 touchdowns on the ground. At the combine, he recorded a 4.41 40-yard dash. On the down side, McKinnon’s blocking skills have been criticized by analysts, and there is certainly room for improvement in that area. His extreme athleticism, though, cannot be ignored. Hopefully, the rookie will continue to develop into a well-rounded player under the mentorship of Peterson.
During the Vikings mini camp, running backs coach Kirby Wilson said the following of McKinnon:
What jumps out to me about him is he’s a quick learner. He retains the information and then he’s able to come out and execute it out on the field. So that’s impressive for a young guy [...] He stood out to me as a guy who’s very quick, had a nice burst into the line of scrimmage, had a very good acceleration in and out of his cuts. I thought he had a very good vision and instincts and change of direction, all of the things that indicate he could possibly be a good football player at this level.
McKinnon clearly has a vote of confidence from Peterson and his coaches. Criticized for drafting the RB as early as they did, the Vikings want to prove they knew exactly what they were getting. And with only 22 days until full training camp and five weeks until the first preseason game, McKinnon is ready to show us what kind of impact he will have on the field.