Peterson: Best Ever?

The Vikings haven't had a dominant running back, it can be argued, since Chuck Foreman excited fans in the 1970s. The selection of Adrian Peterson in the draft could have him in line to become one of the greatest running backs in franchise history -- a tag being placed on him before he even plays his first professional game.

He's only been a Viking for two weeks, but some are already speculating that running back Adrian Peterson could be one of the best running backs in Vikings history. While clearly it is much too early to speculate on that, what the Vikings do have is a runner with the credentials to be a potential Pro Bowler.

Just about every draft analyst applauded the Vikings' move to draft Peterson, even though areas of more immediate need were still available. But, as the Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said on draft weekend, the team was looking to sign playmakers and perhaps nobody on the offensive side of the ball fits that bill as much as Peterson.

The Vikings haven't had a dominating running back since Chuck Foreman, and the Vikings' version of the West Coast Offense changed how the position was played in 1970s. Prior to that, running backs pretty much just carried the ball. The Vikings and offensive coordinator Jerry Burns used running backs as receivers as well as rushers, and Foreman became one of the game's top dual threats. Since then, it could be argued that the Vikings haven't had another dominant runner.

The team has had its share of featured backs since then, but none with the combination of speed and power as Peterson possesses. Darrin Nelson was a speed runner who didn't have all that much toughness. Ted Brown was a between-the-tackles type who wasn't a threat to break every carry to the house. Terry Allen was a workhorse who could move a pile, but wasn't a big-play threat either. Robert Smith had great speed, but injuries limited him for most of his career and, with the exception of his final three seasons, he wasn't a consistent threat that could be counted on for 16 games. Chester Taylor is a solid back, but fits more in the mold of running plays up the middle for four or five yards at a pop.

In Peterson, the Vikings have what they have lacked since the Foreman days – a runner who can be a dangerous threat in the backfield and as a receiver as well. While not as fast as Reggie Bush, the team is expecting the same type of production out of him – a threat that will force defenses to play honest against him and even when he isn't involved in plays directly, he can alter a defense by keeping linebackers watching him and opening plays for others.

Whether Peterson becomes one of the game's top running backs or not will play itself out over the next several years, but Vikings fans have someone to be excited about in their backfield for the first time in years and, if things pan out as many think they will, he could become one of the greatest running backs in franchise history in a short period of time.

Viking Update Top Stories