Stanford's Toby Gerhart, the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy last season, was taken with a second-round pick after the Vikings made a deal with Houston to move up. The deal cost Minnesota its third-round selection but team executives felt the investment was well worth it.
Gerhart has the size (6 feet, 231 pounds) to move to fullback in the NFL, but vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman and coach Brad Childress both said the rookie will remain at running back.
The Vikings had been looking to add a No. 2 back since Chester Taylor signed a free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears in March. Childress has voiced his faith in Albert Young, and Darius Reynaud was moved from wide receiver to running back, but it was clear the Vikings felt an upgrade at the position remained a priority.
Gerhart is coming off an outstanding season in which he rushed for a nation-best 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Gerhart did not have big receiving numbers at Stanford, but Spielman said he possesses excellent hands and simply wasn't used that much to catch passes.
That could change in Minnesota, depending on what his role ends up being. Taylor was one of the NFL's most-reliable third-down backs but that doesn't mean that will be Gerhart's role.
Peterson's pass catching skills have improved and the coaching staff said he has made strides as a blocker. If the latter is true, Peterson certainly could see the field more on third down.
Still, the Pro Bowl back needs some breaks so Gerhart figures to get the reps when Peterson needs a breather.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm a very physical player, and I'm a playmaker. I feel like I have great ball skills. I'm just a ball player. I feel like I can bring more defense to the team. I can play special teams or anywhere on the field." — Cornerback Chris Cook, who was taken by the Vikings with their first pick. The selection came in the second round of the draft.