Toby Gerhart was once a fixture as the Minnesota Vikings No. 2 back, but he now has a golden opportunity to establish himself as a standout player as the Jacksonville Jaguars feature back. That has left something of a running back competition for the backup gig in Minnesota, , and it appears to be a clear, two-way battle between returning back Matt Asiata and raw rookie Jerick McKinnon.
The 5’9″, 208-pound Georgia Southern product has plenty of upside due to his speed, and he could get some nice carries on third downs to spell Adrian Peterson, who will continue to be a major workhorse, on occasion. McKinnon is a former college QB who doesn’t understand the nuances of the position, but he doesn’t lack upside and can make an impact as a receiver out of the backfield, which is something that Norv Turner will feature more often next season. Pass protection is always the main issue, and Asiata’s experience gives him the clear edge in that department.
Peterson gave some big-time praise to the rookie, and hopefully McKinnon has picked up some things from the game’s best running back. AD said, via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Master Tesfatsion, “He’s pretty impressive and there’s not too many guys who impress me like that, especially rookies coming in. He’s been able to do some real good things in the offense, picking it up well and just his running style.”
McKinnon’s speed, agility, incredible athleticism, and fluid style make him an intriguing player, but he’s probably one for the future. That said, if he keeps it up, he could make an impact behind Peterson when called upon. It won’t be often, but, then again, you never know. Players like McKinnon are a huge reason why I can’t wait for the preseason, because it is “real football” indeed for these players champing at the bit.