• Wed. May 31st, 2023

Backfield Breakdown: Minnesota Vikings

To say that Dalvin Cook's future with the Minnesota Vikings is in limbo would be an understatement. Rumors have swirled all offseason about a potential trade. He turns 28 this summer and plays a position that has been devalued by the analytics movement. He's also coming off a dreadful 2022. Battling injury and inconsistency, Cook averaged a paltry 69 yards per game and posted the lowest per carry average of his career. Adding more fuel to the fire, the cap-strapped Vikings resigned backfield stalwart Alexander Mattison. Mattison's return to Minnesota was a bit of a surprise. After spending the first four years of his career playing Robin to Cook's Batman, the veteran back failed to top four yards per carry and rushed for a career-low 74 attempts.

The Vikings also spent a fifth-round pick in 2022 on Ty Chandler. An SEC veteran, Chandler enjoyed a mini breakout in his lone season at North Carolina, topping 1,000 yards and finishing third in the ACC in rushing. A patient runner, Chandler struggles through contact but displays the soft hands and lateral quickness to be a passing game weapon.

 

 

Many hoped the NFL draft would provide some clarity, instead the Vikings front office managed to muddy the waters even further. A seventh-round selection doesn't usually move the needle but seventh-round picks rarely show up with the kind of credentials DeWayne McBride brings to the table. McBride led the FBS with 1,702 yards from scrimmage and his 1,072 yards after contact placed him third in the nation. A workhorse who displays fantastic contact balance, McBride routinely gains more than is blocked by his offensive line. His vision and patience make him a fit for the outside zone and power running schemes that fuel head coach Kevin O'Connell's multi-faceted rushing attack.

So why did the versatile McBride, who finished his career trailing only Bijan Robinson and Javonte Williams in forced missed tackle rate fall to the seventh round? Ball security issues and inexperience on third down. McBride caught just 5 passes in three years of college football. That makes this area of his game tough to evaluate.

At some point Cook will likely be traded or released as a post June 1st cut. Which would turn the Minnesota backfield into a likely committee. Mattison would seemingly have the inside track, but his struggles from last season could leave the door open for someone like McBride to burst through. It's easy to envision a scenario where Mattison starts the year as the guy and slowly cedes work to his younger more talented teammates.