It doesn't take a reading of tea leaves by an "expert" in the field to draw the conclusion that the Vikings are heading into the 2012 season unconvinced they're going to have Adrian Peterson at 100 percent. If any running back can come back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament with a vengeance and furious anger, it's A.D. But, this is a business run by "what have you done for me lately?" types.
As a result, the Vikings could be looking for a home-run running back in the draft – whether to be a Dave Meggett/Sproles hybrid or potentially the Mercury Morris to Toby Gerhart's Larry Csonka. Gerhart did a solid job in replacing Peterson when he suffered his torn knee against the Redskins and in weeks prior. But, unfortunately for Gerhart, Vikings fans had become spoiled by Peterson's penchant for turning nothing into a big-time something – running a play designed to go left and, with nothing there, turning right and busting a long one. Gerhart can earn every dollar he's being paid, but he is what he is – a player who makes his money three, four and five yards at a time. He's not going to be a home run threat capable of taking any carry to the house. If the Vikings aren't convinced that Peterson will be back at 100 percent by the start of the 2012 regular season, making a move in the draft to bring in a speed back might be in the cards a month from now.
Some names for fans to study up on over the next few weeks – David Wilson of Virginia Tech, LaMichael James of Oregon, Isaiah Pead of Cincinnati, Ronnie Hillman of San Diego State and Chris Rainey of Florida. By the time the draft is over, one of them may be a new member of the Vikings.
The team may have more immediate pressing needs at wide receiver, offensive tackle, middle linebacker and the secondary, but, unless the team is sure Peterson will back – which at this time is a near-impossibility – don't be stunned to see running back move up on the team's priority list on draft weekend. It may not come early in the draft, but you can bet that, at some point earlier than later, running back may be on the Vikings' shopping list draft weekend.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.