Film buff weighs in on L.T. vs. Westbrook

In just a couple days, the Vikings very well could be looking for a replacement for Chester Taylor. Two of the more productive running backs over the last handful of years will be on the market. So what does Greg Cosell of NFL Films think of them in purple? Honest as always, Cosell weighs in on Tomlinson, Westbrook and other possibilities.

Tim Yotter: There has been talk about LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook being possibilities for the Vikings to replace Chester Taylor. Do you see either of those two as being good fits or one being better than the other?

Greg Cosell:
I see Westbrook as being a very good fit because obviously it's the same offense with the same terminology. Westbrook knows it cold. He's been in it his whole career. Brad Childress runs the exact same offense that Andy Reid runs. There's always modifications based on your talent, but it comes down to terminologies and concepts and the concepts and the terminology are the same. Obviously Westbrook now becomes a satellite player. He becomes a Reggie Bush-type player. He maybe plays 20 or 25 snaps a game. I think in that role, as a perimeter satellite player, Westbrook would still have some value. He's just not a runner anymore, a true runner where you can line him up in the backfield and give him the ball and have him run between the tackles.

TY: How much do you think he has left with the talk about the injuries and the concussions? Is that a concern for you or is it a risk?

GC:
Yes. It's definitely a risk. Let's put the concussions aside. I think his skill set has gone down as far as his lateral explosiveness. Two things made Westbrook great: lateral explosiveness and his ability to align anywhere in the formation, what we call a joker. I still think he can do that, but I think his lateral explosiveness is not what it was.

TY: If they did have any interest in Tomlinson, does he have much left or has he taken such a pounding his career that he's not going to give you much?

GC:
I think he's similar to Westbrook. He's lost his lateral explosiveness, which made him the best back for years, hands down, and a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's also a guy you can use as a satellite player, as a joker. Hasn't done it as much as Westbrook and obviously did not play in the same offense. Tomlinson is a very smart guy. There are two kinds of offenses in the NFL for the most part – the Don Coryell school, which is the three-digit system – that's what Norv Turner runs. There's the West Coast offense – the Bill Walsh school – that's what Brad Childress runs. The language is totally different. Yes, Tomlinson is a very smart guy, but he'd have to start over. It would be like you and I all the sudden having to learn a foreign language. That's why I think Westbrook is ultimately a better fit because I think they are very similar players in their career.

TY: Do you have any idea of what Westbrook would be looking for as far as compensation?

GC:
No. Then it comes down to how realistic he is. I think we all agree that in this marketplace, it's a new landscape. We don't know what it's going to be. My guess is that 30- or 31-year-old backs are not going to command big dollars.

TY: Any other backs out there in the unrestricted free-agent market that you think might be a good fit to back up Adrian Peterson, somebody like Kevin Faulk or Willie Parker, who are both out there?

GC:
I love Kevin Faulk and my guess is that he'll end up staying in New England. He's that kind of player as well – a satellite player – and he can play 20, 25 plays. He's a terrific blocker in pass protection, which is obviously a necessity with Brett Favre, who I believe will come back, by the way. Willie Parker I don't think is the right fit because I think Willie Parker is a runner and then you're getting a guy to spell Peterson. The thing that made Chester Taylor such a great fit for the Vikings is – yes, he was a very good runner and I'm sure there are some people who believe he can be a featured back – but he was a terrific pass receiver out of the backfield and a really good blocker. Willie Parker is not a terrific pass receiver. Unless they are planning to use Peterson more as a third-down back, which they did on occasion last year and he had some success, they need a guy who is really more of a third-down player. I don't see Willie Parker as that guy.


Greg Cosell is a senior producer at NFL Films and watches about 30 hours of film a week. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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