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Updated: April 23rd, 2013 7:55pm
Vikings by position: Toby Gerhart may not be long for Minnesota

Vikings by position: Toby Gerhart may not be long for Minnesota

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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Editor's note: Each day until the NFL Draft begins on Thursday night, Tom Pelissero is breaking down the Minnesota Vikings' roster by position, based on observations of games and practice, tape studies and interviews with NFL coaches and scouts.

Day 7

Running backs.

On the roster (5)

Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard, Jerome Felton, Toby Gerhart, Adrian Peterson.

Breakdown

Peterson (6-foot-1, 217 pounds) is coming off one of the great seasons in NFL history and the reigning MVP. He's 28 years old and has rising mileage (1,754 regular-season carries in six seasons) but looks like a bargain this season for $11.5 million in salary and bonuses. There wasn't much work left last season for Gerhart (6-0, 231), who played mostly on third downs because he's a superior protector and is entering a contract year at age 26. He could be trade bait once injuries start hitting in camp, depending on whether the Vikings have any intention of trying to convince him he'll get his shot here eventually. Then again, they value him as a load-carrier if something happens to Peterson and could take a compensatory pick if he walks anyway. Asiata (5-11, 234) appeared in every game last season, mostly on special teams. He's a versatile No. 3 back with zone-running traits but not a change of pace. Banyard (5-11, 213) had offseason stints with Jacksonville and New Orleans as a rookie out of UTEP before joining the Vikings' practice squad late in the season. The three-year, $7.5 million deal Felton (6-0, 246) signed in March included a $2 million bonus and made him one of the NFL's highest-paid fullbacks. He figures to be in for the long haul, though the penalty wouldn't be too steep if the Vikings decide to change course.

Draft outlook

It's not out of the question the Vikings could use a mid- to late-round pick on another halfback as insurance if Gerhart departs. Barring that, the Vikings figure to sign an undrafted rookie or two to fill out their depth chart in camp. Drafting a backup fullback who can play special teams is a possibility, too, though they've discussed using tight end Rhett Ellison in that role if something happens to Felton.

Last 10 drafts

• 2012: None.
• 2011: None.
• 2010: Gerhart (second round, 51st overall); Ryan D'Imperio (seventh, 237th).
• 2009: None.
• 2008: None.
• 2007: Peterson (first, seventh).
• 2006: None.
• 2005: Ciatrick Fason (fourth, 112th).
• 2004: Mewelde Moore (fourth, 119th).
• 2003: Onterrio Smith (fourth, 105th).

Linked in

The Vikings have had no known visits with running backs.

High fives

Mel Kiper, ESPN: Halfbacks -- 1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama; 2. Montee Ball, Wisconsin; 3. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA; 4. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina; 5. Mike Gillislee, Florida. Fullbacks -- 1. Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard; 2. Lonnie Pryor, Florida State; 3. Zach Boren, Ohio State; 4. Zach Line, SMU; 5. Tommy Bohanon, Wake Forest.

Mike Mayock, NFL Network: Halfbacks -- 1. Lacy; 2. Ball; 3. Bernard; 4. Andre Ellington, Clemson; t-5. Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State; t-5. Christine Michael, Texas A&M. Fullbacks -- No rankings given.

Up next

Tight ends.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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