With the addition of Ben Tate and the news that Adrian Peterson won’t play for the year, we might as well take a look at the player that has Vikings fans excited if a little anxious. The Vikings have added Ben Tate in part because of injuries to the current running back corps, but also may be evaluating him for a timeshare role with the Vikings in the near future. With that in in mind, is Jerick the kind of back that can thrive in a feature role, or is he more a running-back-by-committee type? If he’s more than a change of pace, then he can be a real asset.
Before the draft, Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar, with scant scouting reports available on what would amount to a position convert—a difficult report to write even in the most favorable of circumstances. Functionally, the bulk of what we were told amounted to “a physically talented but raw prospect at the running back position”—true but a little incomplete from necessity.
Here at Vikings Territory, we tried our best to get a good report on McKinnon, and Carl Knowles did a good job breaking him down in the immediate aftermath of the draft. After that, Darren Page did a hell of a job creating an effective scouting report on McKinnon. Matt Waldman wrote about McKinnon in his Rookie Scouting Portfolio with the following blurb (and then some):
McKinnon has more upside than his ranking suggests because he’s a fantastic athlete who has played multiple positions, including quarterback, defensive back, and running back. However, the limited tape of McKinnon as a runner—and non-existent game tape at Georgia Southern of him as an I-formation back clouds the decision-making process.
I see evidence that McKinnon can become a good NFL running back, but he’ll need to show that he can use his physical gifts with a deeper start from the line of scrimmage. It should give him an advantage, but it all depends on how he reads blocks.
Waldman followed up with a larger piece on McKinnon during the offseason, where he includes his full RSP assessment. All of those provide good context for who McKinnon was and they remain largely true, but we know more now and can really dig into him. As a warning, this will be heavy with GIFs and may load slowly on a lot of computers.