Time for Vikings to replace insurance policy

In Adrian Peterson's best years to date, the Vikings had a healthy insurance policy in Toby Gerhart. With Gerhart now gone, the Vikings are expected to find a replacement for Gerhart (and possible heir to Peterson) in the middle rounds of the draft.

The drafting of Toby Gerhart in 2010 brought an interesting reaction from Vikings fans. Eyebrows raised and jaws dropped simultaneously – no easy achievement. It's not a good look.

At the time, the Vikings were three years into a relationship with a golden goose whose eggs were of extraordinary value and rare in their frequency.

It was what the NFL calls Lloyd's of London. In the event a catastrophic injury happens to a franchise player, there was an insurance policy. In hindsight, it made sense because Adrian Peterson – a.k.a All Day and Purple Jesus – sustained the Ground Zero career-threatening injury feared by the Tripod of Authority, they had Gerhart as insurance.

Peterson made one of the more medically defying recoveries in football history – raising the bar for those athletes that have followed in attempting to come back from a shredded ACL.

The end result was that, while he got a little more action the last couple of seasons, Gerhart wasn't the first option but he was a valued insurance policy.

How are the Vikings going to approach this year's draft when, it can be argued, there is much more reason to use a premium pick on a rookie backup at running back?

If the same mindset is in place now that was in place before Peterson signed his lucrative contract extension, it would seem even more imperative that the Vikings have their Lloyd's of London policy re-upped sooner than later. Peterson has more miles on the odometer. He's paid the price for his style of running and there will start to be concerns that his shelf life will diminish.

As things currently stand, there is every likelihood that the Vikings will have the opportunity to select the first running back in the 2014 draft with their second-round pick if they so choose. Four years after trading away their own second- and third-round picks to draft an insurance policy in Gerhart, they may not have to wait for anyone else to jump on a running back. They might be the first.

There isn't a running back in the 2014 draft that jumps off the game tape that demands a team not risk losing him. If the Vikings want, they can obtain their new insurance policy any time they want. The smart money is focused in on the third or fourth round, but, as with Gerhart, if a player they have rated highly is available, they might want to cash in and pay the premiums to have an understudy waiting in the wings for the star of the show.

They've done it before. What's not to say they won't do it again? It may be time to get to know the Class of 2014 running backs because you can bet the Vikings draft team is eyeballing them pretty intensely and will pluck one of them out of the barrel on 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.

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