With most of the offseason roster moves complete, the Minnesota Vikings have shifted toward the early process of figuring out their players. With rookie camps concluded, offseason training activities are next on the docket.
Full Press Coverage moves on to the second part of the Vikings’ roster preview. Quarterback was covered in the opening article. Running back will be the next position that we examine.
This may be more prediction than official, but unless there’s a setback in his recovery, Cook should resume starting by opening day. Whether he’ll get the bulk of the carries, as it was trending before he went down, is up for debate.
When he played, Cook had great success. So much so that he relegated both Murray and Jerrick McKinnon, to minimal snaps. He was beginning to show his effectiveness in the passing game as well before tearing his ACL.
If he does indeed regain his form, he and Murray have the potential to challenge as the top rushing duo in the league in 2018.
Murray ultimately picked up the load after Cook’s injury. After gaining just 96 yards in the first six weeks, he racked up 746 over the final 10 games.
Though his yards per carry left much to be desired, he was money in goal line situations. Seven of his eight touchdown runs came inside the red zone.
He’ll be the power back in this partnership and likely goal line runner in many, if not most, situations to keep Cook fresh and limit his exposure early on.
The third back is open for competition. Brown is a veteran who has been around the league, while Thomas and Boone are undrafted free agents looking to make their first NFL rosters.
Because both Cook and Murray are capable three-down backs, the number three back isn’t likely to see much action and may even find themselves inactive on game days.
Even with Cook sidelined after the first four games, the Vikings still finished seventh in rushing in 2017, thanks to the combination of Murray, McKinnon and an improved offensive line. If he’s able to bounce back early a la Adrian Peterson 2012, the Vikings running game could be far more dangerous in 2018. His pairing with Murray should be more balanced this time around.
Despite being the more talented of the two, Cook shouldn’t be expected to get as big a share of the carries as he was on track for last season. Murray proved his value in Cook’s absence and will serve as the primary backup or fill-in starter if Cook goes down again.
Final Spring Evaluation
At last report from the Vikings, Dalvin Cook was on target in his rehab and was on course to be ready for training camp. Getting him back is the best possible boost for the position.Murray is a better-than-average number two in a two-back rotation. If Cook isn’t ready to go, he can easily step into the starting role and carry the load.
The Vikings will look to add a third back for depth, as both Cook and Murray have recent injuries that they’re looking to bounce back from in 2018. If Cook and Murray prove to be a legit combo at the running back position, they should make the offense as a whole much more difficult to contend with in 2018.
Current Position Grade: A-