Vikings Fans Aren’t Sure if They Want an Elite Playmaker

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The Vikings need help on defense after an atrocious year on that side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was replaced, and many players left. Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, Duke Shelley, Chandon Sullivan, Eric Kendricks, and Dalvin Tomlinson all started games for the purple defense in 2022 and are no longer on the team.

However, the team could improve the offense to an elite level to offset that instead of directly investing in a defender. Adam Thielen was released and hasn’t been replaced. The only meaningful offensive player added to the offense was Josh Oliver, a tight end. Kevin O’Connell’s unit could use another dynamic player.

Vikings Fans Aren’t Sure if They Want an Elite Playmaker

A new wideout is needed. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers, and Jordan Addison are viewed as the top guys in the class. Someone has to fill the role of Adam Thielen, but that could be addressed in later rounds. Another player could be available for the Vikings, who is just as, if not more, explosive than the receivers.

Vikings Fans Aren't Sure if They Want an Elite Playmaker
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Running back Bijan Robinson is one of the most popular draft prospects but also one of the most controversial ones. Robinson is almost unanimously viewed as the top running back in this year’s group, and many pundits use the magical word generational for the Texas alumnus, but Vikings fans aren’t so sure if he’s the guy to pick if he’s available to them.

While the poll has no scientific value, it shows how torn the fanbase is. The results are almost split in half.

Robinson is playing one of the least valuable positions in football. The short summary is running backs have short careers and are easy to replace. Running backs, even the best ones, generally slow down in their late 20s. Drafting one that high is risky. If he’s good, he puts the team in a position where they almost have to extend his contract, but signing runners to a second contract is never smart, as their athletic ability declines and they simply get hurt. Teams always regret an extension at some point.

Picking a player in the first round who, in the best case, only has a 6-7 year career, at least the effective part of their careers doesn’t go any longer, is simply not a good value. That gets even enhanced because running backs are easily replaceable.

Teams regularly find excellent running backs in the later stages of the draft. Just last year, the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs selected Isiah Pacheco in the final round. Backups like Alexander Mattison can do most things good running backs can do but cost only a fraction. That’s why having a committee of cheap players is the way to go for most teams.

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So why is Robinson even in the conversation to be a first-rounder? He is in the conversation because he is incredible, that’s why.

Robinson is a big back. He is 5’11” with 215 pounds, almost prototypical size. At the draft combine, the star runner recorded a 4.46 40-yard dash which shows his ability to take the ball to the house on any given down.

Speaking of taking the ball to the house, Robinson scored 41 touchdowns in his three-year career, including 20 in 2022. Thirty-three of those scores came on the ground, and 8 were receptions. He also recorded 3,410 rushing yards and 805 receiving yards. His average yards per carry were 6.3.

Robinson has the size, power, speed, agility, and vision to be a fantastic running back as soon as he steps on the field. According to Pro Football Focus, Robinson broke 104 tackles last year, a PFF record.

Vikings Can Face 4 Teams
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His pro comparisons are superstars like Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott. He, himself, thought the running style of the legendary Barry Sanders was a good comparison. In addition to his excellent running skills, Robinson offers elite receiving talent. He can line up as a wide receiver and still be effective.

The former Texas Longhorn would take over for Dalvin Cook, who is rumored to be on the chopping block. He will turn 28 years soon and is an expensive running back, something teams want to avoid, and it makes sense that the analytically driven GM doesn’t want an expensive RB on the team.

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After re-signing with the Vikings, Alexander Mattison would take over his usual role as the backup running back behind a true workhorse.

Another aspect that should be considered is that the next Vikings quarterback, possibly a rookie in 2024, can enter a perfect situation. He would be paired with Justin Jefferson, the league’s top receiver and best friend for any QB, and also with T.J. Hockenson and Robinson, two of the top guys at their respective positions. It won’t be easy to create a more QB-friendly environment for a young passer.

There are some reasons to draft the dynamic rookie, and there are some reasons why the Vikings shouldn’t draft him. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could be in a position to make a tough decision.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt