Vikings Have a New Productive Running Back

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The Vikings entered the draft with five picks but managed to make six selections. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah did the same thing as last year, he traded up and down the board. The first pick was Jordan Addison, a wide receiver from USC. He will take over the WR2 duties and help Justin Jefferson get some breathing room.

Defensive coordinator Brian Flores got some new reinforcements next. Third-rounder Mekhi Blackmon, the final pick of the third round, will compete for the starting spot with Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth. Defensive back Jay Ward could be the new starting slot cornerback, and Jaquelin Roy is a new Vikings defensive lineman. Jaren Hall is the developmental QB of the team, an athletic passer with some potential.

Vikings Have a New Productive Running Back

Vikings Have a New Productive Running Back
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The final of the six selections was another offensive player. Minnesota brought in DeWayne McBride, running back out of UAB. McBride visited the Vikings leading up to the draft on an official top-30 pre-draft visit and the team liked him enough to pick him up with selection 222.

The rookie running back had outstanding production in his college career. In only three seasons at UAB, McBride rushed 484 times for 3,523 yards, his average per run was an impressive 7.3. He also scored 36 rushing touchdowns.

One problem, probably his biggest one, is the lack of receiving work. McBride caught only 5 passes for 29 yards in his career, his production as receiver is basically non-existent. Pass protection is almost a similar story, he wasn’t asked to protect much. The new guy in the building must work on both things to succeed in the pass-heavy NFL.

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The running back has prototypical size, he is 5’11” and 215 pounds. As he proved in college, McBride can be a true workhorse running back. Strength and contact balance are positives. He also is an aggressive runner, he won’t just go down without a fight and has great vision, an important but underrated skill.

Another positive for the Vikings is the scheme fit. He should be a wonderful fit in the Vikings’ zone running scheme and immediately be an option to receive carries.

One of his biggest flaws is the lack of breakaway speed. He is more Alexander Mattison than Dalvin Cook in that regard. McBride won’t pull off big plays like Cook last year when he took the ball to the house against the Colts and the Bills, both runs were essential for the epic comeback wins. He also doesn’t have great agility and quickness.

At 6’0″ and 215 pounds, McBride’s muscled-up build is perfect for handling a full NFL workload. He is a tough, violent runner who only gets better the more clutter and chaos there is. He’s nimble enough at the line of scrimmage to handle those scenarios, but more than that, he has the demeanor and balance to consistently fight for yardage. It’s extremely difficult to get him down behind the line of scrimmage, and he’s always fighting and falling forward for extra yards, making him the type of runner who is great for keeping an offense on schedule.

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The Vikings still employ Cook, their star running back since his selection in 2017. He was rumored to depart from the organization but he is still on the team. That could change at any point but as long as he’s on the roster, there won’t be many carries for anyone else.

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If someone gets the backup carries, it will be the re-signed runner Alexander Mattison. However, if Cook indeed leaves, the whole structure changes. Mattison, McBride, and last year’s rookie Ty Chandler would battle for the starting job but would likely work in a committee, the new preferred running back room in the NFL.

Kene Nwangwu has never shown he can be an effective player on offense but he would certainly be in the mix and had a chance to claim a role outside of kick returns.

The Vikings had the third-lowest running percentage in 2022, only topped by the Buccaneers and the Chargers. Both of those teams fired their offensive coordinator because it is hard to have an effective offense without a running game.

Minnesota spent a lot to ensure a better running game. The team re-signed Mattison, extended the deal of fullback C.J. Ham, signed fantastic blocking tight end Josh Oliver, and brought back center Garrett Bradbury. Once Cook leaves the team, McBride will be a dark horse to win the starting job in training camp.

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