RBC The Way of the Future?

There was a time not too long ago that the term running back-by-committee meant that a team didn't have a premier running back and were slapping together two or three runners to make up for the lack of top-end talent. That would appear to no longer be the case, and the Vikings might have the opportunity to jump on that bandwagon with Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma with the seventh pick in the draft.

With the speculation as to where the Vikings will go with the seventh overall pick in the draft, one position that hasn't been mentioned too much to date that possibly should be is running back. Coming into the 2006 season, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson was viewed as a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Instead, injuries sidelined him and have some of the top teams a little leery of taking him in the top five. There is a decent chance he will still be available for the Vikings at No. 7 – especially if he makes it past the Browns at No. 3 – and could pose an interesting dilemma for the Vikings.

While not a pure speed burner, Peterson posted some impressive numbers for the Sooners. In three years, he carried the ball 747 times for 4,306 yards – an impressive 5.8 yards per carry – and scored a whopping 42 touchdowns (41 rushing, one receiving). He has the speed to break off long runs and, at 220 pounds, can dominate between the tackles.

While some may contend that Peterson is in some ways similar to Chester Taylor and that the Vikings made a significant investment in Taylor, the fact of the matter is that more teams are going to a running back tandem and it's hard to argue the success those teams have had. One look at the final four teams in the conference championship games this January bears that out.

Of the four teams, all had running back tandems. The Bears had Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. The Saints had Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush. The Patriots had Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney. The Colts had Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes. The old-school thinking that you need one RB to get into a rhythm isn't so anymore. Teams can thrive with two running backs – keeping both fresh and available to break off big plays.

The Vikings leaned heavily on Taylor last year. He set a team record for most carries and, late in the season, showed signs of wearing down. Drafting another running back wouldn't be a sign that Taylor hasn't worked out or that the team has lost confidence in him. Rather, it's a sign of the times. Just as many teams signed a veteran backup at quarterback, they're also looking at taking co-running backs that can shoulder the load together.

Brad Childress made it clear last season that his Vikings and his West Coast Offense would stress the run. They did just that. Adding a player like Peterson could take that philosophy to the next level. While there is no guarantee that the Vikings will look at Peterson if he's still on the board at No. 7, he would be an intriguing pick that would give the anemic Vikings offense a playmaker and an immediate boost. Running back-by-committee is no longer a dirty word in the NFL. It can be done and done successfully. In a league where imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Vikings might join the growing list of teams that utilize two running backs instead of one – and maybe enjoy some of the same success that the Colts, Bears, Saints and Patriots enjoyed in 2006.

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