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Updated: April 19th, 2010 5:35pm
Vikings predraft roster analysis, Day 7: Running backs and fullbacks

Vikings predraft roster analysis, Day 7: Running backs and fullbacks

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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Over the past two weeks, Tom Pelissero has broken down the Minnesota Vikings' roster position by position, based on conversations with scouts around the NFL. To read the full series, use the links below.


QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST

DAY 7
Running backs and fullbacks.

ON THE ROSTER
Halfbacks: Ian Johnson, James Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Darius Reynaud, Albert Young.
Fullbacks: Jeff Dugan, Naufahu Tahi.

BREAKDOWN
Peterson (6-1, 217) remains an elite two-down back who has rushed for 1,300-plus yards every year and posted career highs in touchdowns (18) and receptions (43) last season. His carries dipped (from 363 in 2008 to 314), but opponents continued to account for him. Ball security (nine fumbles last season, including two in playoffs) and pass protection remain works in progress. Escalators have pushed Peterson's base salary to $3.64 million this season and $10.72 million in 2011. That investment, coupled with Peterson's violent running style, necessitates a No. 1a option. Chester Taylor's offseason departure might open the door for Young (5-10, 209), who went undrafted in 2008 and has 12 career carries for 53 yards. Young was a two-time all-Big Ten pick, but he lacks exceptional speed for his stature and can be indecisive with the ball. Reynaud (5-9, 201) -- a return man with no career touches on offense -- is converting back to his high school position and might have some value as a third-down receiving threat. Practice-squad holdover Ian Johnson (5-11, 212) and street free agent James Johnson (5-11, 205), who received no signing bonus after finishing last season on Cincinnati's practice squad, probably are long shots. Twice-tendered restricted free agent Tahi (6-0, 254) and Dugan (6-4, 258) are just guys, but an upgrade isn't pressing.

ONE SCOUT'S TAKE
"When the ball's in his hands, (Peterson)'s as good as anybody in the National Football League. But I think what they need here is an insurance policy for the player. ... I think when they lost Chester Taylor, they lost some of that comfort zone of knowing that, ‘Hey, if we ever need to replace (Peterson) when he gets banged up, we're good. We're OK.' There's an unproven quantity with Albert Young sitting behind him, and I don't think Albert Young will ever be a replacement-type starter. I think he'd be more of a situational, change-of-pace guy. I think they need maybe a higher level of talent here."
-- AFC personnel director

DRAFT OUTLOOK
Taylor's departure left a sizeable hole, which the Vikings acknowledged with their failed pursuit of LaDainian Tomlinson. So, they could draft a running back as soon as the No. 30 overall pick -- California's versatile Jahvid Best could be an option if he checks out medically -- and most likely will grab one at some point. Any consideration for a fullback would come in the late rounds only.

MEL KIPER'S TOP FIVE
Halfbacks

C.J. Spiller, Clemson (5-11, 195)
Jahvid Best, California (5-10, 195)
Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss (5-8, 165)
Ryan Matthews, Fresno State (5-11, 220)
Joe McKnight, Southern Cal (6-0, 190)

Fullbacks
John Conner, Kentucky (5-11, 240)
Rashawn Jackson, Virginia (6-1, 245)
Jameson Konz, Kent State (6-3, 227)
Manase Tonga, BYU (6-0, 238)
Cory Jackson, Maryland (6-1, 245)

UP NEXT
Specialists.

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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