Well, Well, Well. Vikings Host Draft Meeting with RB.

Memphis' Blake Watson (4) runs with the ball during the game between the University of Memphis and University of Alabama at Birmingham at Protective Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, October 21, 2023. © Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Minnesota Vikings fans are utterly fixated on the team’s next quarterback — who can blame them? — but the ground game needs repair, too.

Well, Well, Well. Vikings Host Draft Meeting with RB.

That’s probably why the purple team hosted Memphis running back Blake Watson via Top 30 visit this week, a rookie expected to go off the board in Rounds 6 or 7 in about two weeks.

draft meeting
Memphis’ Blake Watson (4) runs in for a touchdown during the game between the University of Memphis and Bethune-Cookman University in Memphis, Tenn., on Saturday, September 2, 2023. © Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Draft Network’s Justin Melo tweeted Wednesday, “Memphis RB Blake Watson visited the Vikings on a pre-draft 30 visit yesterday, per source. Watson is now heading to Denver for a visit with the Broncos. Watson produced 1,600+ yards in 2023, averaged 6 YPC, 17 total TDs, ran a 4.39 40. Underrated player!”

At the moment, Minnesota employs five running backs on the pre-draft roster:

  • Aaron Jones
  • Ty Chandler
  • Kene Nwangwu
  • DeWayne McBride
  • Myles Gaskin
Memphis’ Blake Watson (4) runs in for a touchdown during the game between the University of Memphis and Bethune-Cookman University in Memphis, Tenn., on Saturday, September 2, 2023. © Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK.

That’s more than enough per quantity to showcase this autumn on the active roster, but the bottom two, McBride and Gaskin, cannot be considered safe for a 53-man roster spot later this summer. Drafting Watson would indicate a short leash for both men.

Watson is 5’9″ and 190 pounds with 4.39 speed. He’s considered a dual-threat tailback whose resume includes catching passes along with running the rock. If drafted by Minnesota with the current fivesome, he’d hope to latch on as RB3 behind Jones and Chandler.

New Starters
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Pro Football Network’s Ian Cummings wrote about Watson last year, “Watson’s play on the field makes it impossible to look away. He’s dynamic, he’s versatile — and his background is just as impressive as you’d expect from a player with his kind of ability. Believe it or not, Watson was a full-time WR in high school — not an RB. Throughout his entire high school career, he caught 106 passes for 1,885 yards and 25 touchdowns and earned a two-star billing as a WR recruit.”

The knocks on Watson are fairly straightforward: size and age. He isn’t a bruising halfback and he’ll be 25 in October.

Memphis’ Blake Watson (4) runs in for a touchdown during the game between the University of Memphis and the University of Alabama at Birmingham at Protective Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, October 21, 2023. © Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK.

This is what the Vikings must fix heading into 2024 — a poor rushing attack in the last two years:

Vikings Rushing Stats,
2022:

Yards per Rush = 26th
Rush EPA = 29th
DVOA = 27th
Rushing Yards = 29th
Rush Play % = 30th
Rushing TDs = 8th

Vikings Rushing Stats,
2023:

Yards per Rush = 24th
Rush EPA = 25th
DVOA = 27th
Rushing Yards = 29th
Rush Play % = 30th
Rushing TDs = 30th

There’s also a scenario where Minnesota grabs Watson from undrafted free agency, like Ivan Pace Jr. last year. He’s not a lock to be drafted.

The draft is 15 days away.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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