Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Apr 2011

Fixing the Vikings

Guest Column by Matt Scribbins

The Vikings know their best shot at a Lombardi Trophy was in 2009. They had a Hall of Fame quarterback in a career year and a star running back gashing the league. Their first-round pick, Percy Harvin, was a Pro Bowler. Sidney Rice, 23, had a better statistical season than Jerry Rice did at the same age. The Williams Wall led Minnesota to the second best ranking in Power situations, and the third best Stuffed percentage. Jared Allen recorded 14.5 sacks and led the defense to a fourth-place finish in Adjusted Sack Rate. It was all good in Zygi's Hood, until they fell victim to the Voodoo in the Bayou.

Fast forward to today, and there is no denying that Minnesota still has great pieces. Six-time Pro Bowler Kevin Williams is still playing at a high level at a position that lends itself to longevity. Antoine Winfield is among the best run-stopping cornerbacks in history, and Harvin is one of the league's most dynamic players. Chad Greenway played the last two seasons at a Pro Bowl level and Adrian Peterson is arguably the NFL's best running back.

Zygi Wilf has done everything in his power to bring a title to Minnesota. He slipped Seattle a poison pill and netted All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson. He brought in Bernard Berrian from Chicago and was rewarded with more than 20 yards per reception in his Berrian's first season. Allen came from Kansas City and changed the game immediately. Oh yeah, and he also shelled out $32 million to Brett Favre. The moves brought Wilf painfully close to a championship, but now they are a big part of Minnesota's problems.

Steve Hutchinson has declined and missed five games last year with injuries. Berrian should pick up Jim Fassel's Locomotives playbook if he ever returns to Las Vegas for his phone. Jared Allen didn't get going until mid-season, and the Vikings finished 26th in Adjusted Sack Rate after consecutive Top 5 finishes. Maybe most important, Brett Favre has finally retired and Aaron Rodgers isn't waiting in the wings this time.

It is tough to come to grips with the current state of affairs. A year ago, 12 men in the huddle kept the team from the Super Bowl. Now, the Vikings don't know where they will play home games and the depth chart is disastrous.

Winfield is the only employable defensive back on the roster after Cedric Griffin suffered two knee injuries in the 2010 calendar year. Drew Rosenhaus will bag a huge contract for Sidney Rice in a different city. The offensive line hasn't finished in the Top 10 in Adjusted Line Yards in years, and the pass protection is even worse. Pat Williams is leaving for greener pastures and Star Caps will finally sideline Kevin Williams. Ray Edwards made it clear for years he wanted to bolt, and now he will. His projected replacement, Everson Griffen, recently drew superstar comparisons, but Charlie Sheen comparisons in 2011 don't bode well for NFL careers. Obviously, there is a glaring weakness at quarterback as well.

Minnesota's roster might compete in the NFC West, but it won't in the NFC North. Green Bay just won the Super Bowl and actually appears headed for better days. Football Outsiders research indicates a team finishing one full victory below its Pythagorean projection will likely improve the next season. The Packers finished the 2010 regular season with 12.1 Pythagorean wins and a 10-6 record. Stunning. The Bears made a run to the NFC title game and had the most wins in the division last season. The perennial doormat Detroit Lions finished with a 6-10 record, but their 7.8 Pythagorean wins forecast a better 2011. Unfortunately, Minnesota was as bad as they looked and finished with six actual wins and six Pythagorean wins. In division games, contests expected to be competitive, the Vikings were outscored by 65 points.

The Vikings' bell curve needs speed bumps or it could get even uglier. Some of their best players are old and Juan Ponce De Leon isn't visiting Winter Park anytime soon. Look at the ages of the Vikings' best players (during 2011 season): Winfield (34), Hutchinson (34), Bryant McKinnie (32), Kevin Williams (31), and E.J. Henderson (31). Allen (29), Greenway (28), and Peterson (26) are close to their peaks. Thankfully, Percy Harvin (23) has many years left, migraines permitting.

It is conceivable the Vikings could ride AP to a Super Bowl soon. Among the last five Super Bowl Champions, three (Saints, Giants, and Colts) had running backs finish in the Top 5 of rushing DVOA. These same teams didn't have defenses that finished better than 14th in DVOA. The Vikings could certainly achieve both of those measures next year. On the other hand, neither Drew Brees nor the Manning brothers will play quarterback for Minnesota.

How can the Vikings contend again? Acquiring young and talented players is a good place to start. The Vikings have pressing needs at quarterback, defensive back, and along both lines.

Some franchises believe securing players to match up against division foes is a path to relevancy. The Texans drafted Mario Williams to pressure Peyton Manning. Rex Ryan invested in defensive backs to slow down the New England Patriots. Where does this lead Minnesota? The secondary. All three division teams pose problems for the Purple's defensive backs. The NFC North will have Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, and Mike Martz's pass happy offense for years to come. The Vikings ranked 16th in the league last year against No. 1 wide receivers, and that was the highlight. They were crushed by No. 2 receivers (25th) and beat even worse by "other" receivers (27th).

The Vikings, distrustful of Joe Webb, must address their quarterback situation soon. Recent reports indicate the team is interested in Missouri's Blaine Gabbert. Assuming they land a stellar quarterback in the draft, head coach Leslie Frazier and new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will still need time to establish their system. Maybe the Vikings will develop a legitimate quarterback by 2013. Remember the ages of the Vikings' top players? Add two years to each and coming seasons in the land of the ice and cold look dreary.

Adrian Peterson has had a great tenure in purple. He took the league by storm as a rookie and posted the seventh-best rushing DVOA among running backs. In years two and three, he fell to 22nd and 23rd, respectively. Last year, he rebounded and finished the season ranked seventh. However, Peterson recently turned 26, and Football Outsiders research has shown NFL running backs generally decline starting about age 28. Add to that Peterson's heat-seeking running style, and his decline could be precipitous. His best years will be behind him by the time Minnesota can develop a quarterback through the draft. The most important use of a running back is to solidify a win, but it's hard to imagine that Bill Musgrave will need No. 28 to bleed the clock in the near future with a new quarterback under center and a roster riddled with uncertainties.

Clearly, finances also come into play. Peterson will make $10.26 million this season and enter free agency in 2012. Is it prudent to pay a huge portion of the salary cap to a running back, no matter how great, on a middling team? Will Peterson want to spend the rest of his productive years in Minnesota? Mix in a more affordable pay scale for rookies, and this is leading to a fairly obvious conclusion.

Can you imagine the booty Peterson could bag? I'm not talking about the aftermath of six-figure drinking with Bryant McKinnie. I'm talking about Rick Speilman fielding trade offers for AP. Every NFL team wants a great running back, and Minnesota has one. New England and Indianapolis historically acquire picks, but they may spare some to land a star of Peterson's ilk for the end of their quarterback's careers. Bill Belichick wants someone to spread the field, and his first-round picks look mighty appealing. The Colts running game was a nightmare in 2010 and made the team ridiculously one-dimensional. A move for Peterson would propel Jim Irsay's tweets to unprecedented levels and help Indy play a Super Bowl at home. Hell, habitual acquirer Daniel Snyder might make Zygi Wilf an offer he can't refuse if Peterson develops a taste for wine. In Texas, one owner may like to see the local kid fill up the big screen every Sunday. Plenty of other NFL teams need a running back too, and some may make the move just to invigorate fans.

Trading AP would understandably create a hole at running back. However, NFL running backs aren't impossible to find. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the second-ranked running back in 2010 DVOA, was an undrafted free agent after his Mississippi career. DVOA's fifth best running back, Arian Foster, also went undrafted after communicating like a pterodactyl at Tennessee.

Rick Spielman has nailed both of his first-round draft picks since he joined the Vikings. (Maybe part of the problem is they've had two first-round picks in the last four years?) His selections of Peterson in 2007 and Harvin in 2009 resulted in two Rookie of the Year awards and five Pro Bowl selections. A trade involving Peterson would certainly involve first round picks, and Spielman's record indicates he could work wonders with the opportunity. (Feel free to type "small sample size" in the comments.)

Trading a superstar in his prime is begging for a fan revolt, even if Minnesota fans are inured to it (Kevin Garnett, Johan Santana, and Randy Moss). Plus, Peterson is a great locker room guy. He isn't Brandon Marshall, Chad Ochocinco, or Terrell Owens. His teammates and coaches love him, and his opponents respect him. He corrected his biggest on field problem, fumbles, with tireless work in the offseason. His fantasy stats make him one of the most popular players in the league. He is active in the community (not in the Love Boat kind of way) and is a positive role model. A few speeding tickets and looking for a bathroom at McDonald's are the worst things he has done in Minnesota.

Realistically, Adrian Peterson's run in Minnesota will end fruitlessly. Leslie Frazier will coach a contender soon if the Vikings trade Peterson, but not if they keep him. Teams must capitalize when they have a shot at glory. The Vikings didn't. Now, they should turn their most valuable asset into several building blocks. Reversing the Herschel Walker trade is Minnesota's best opportunity to hoist its first Lombardi Trophy.

Matt Scribbins is a one-time safety for, and recent graduate of, Iowa State University. He also writes for Hoopdata and Magic Basketball, and is one of the FO game charters. If you have an idea for a Football Outsiders guest column, something that takes an unconventional angle on a subject related to college football or the NFL, please send your idea or a rough draft to mailbag-at-footballoutsiders.com.

Posted by: Guest on 04 Apr 2011

107 comments, Last at 06 Apr 2011, 7:29pm by andrew

Comments

1
by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:19pm

Best new-to-FO author since Muth. Well-written, with a bit of Tanier-esque literary reference, with a reasonable point that is well-argued.

My captcha:

άΣγ parivere

Really? Captchas in Greek now??

30
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 4:26pm

I had a captcha in Mandarin last year.

41
by Whatev :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:31pm

I had a captcha which was a mathematical expression! It was in set notation and had subscripts and superscripts and the whole deal!

2
by Dean :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:26pm

I don't agree with the thesis, but I do agree that it was very well thought out and very well written.

Ultimately, though, I'm of the school of thought that in order to win, you add good players rather than discard them. Also, I suspect that the idea of a team trading multiple first round picks for any RB - regardless of how good - is a wildly optimistic. If, as you pointed out, RBs are fungible and a competent one can be found on the scrap heap (a point I agree with), why would another team trade a premium asset to acquire one?

There are teams that need help at RB. But even for a player of APs talent, I have a hard time seeing a team giving even 1 first rounder in exchange for 3 or so years of premium production. Even that assumes that his production doesn't change with his surroundings.

Ultimately, I think this sounds like so much wishful thinking.

5
by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:31pm

i think the only wishful thinking part of it is the money issue. we know that playoff teams with rb needs throw low first round picks at questionable running backs. but they pay those guys way way less than peterson would demand. in terms of money, adding peterson at an all pro contract is closer to a low first round pick plus signing a very good free agent at a non-premium position (lb, s, interior line)

11
by sethburn :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:02pm

I have to agree with Dean on this one. The Vikes would likely be VERY disappointed by the trade offers received for AP, and cisforcookie nailed the reason why: Money.

Football Outsiders has done some pretty good analysis about where teams should spend money and running back came up with a negative correlation to winning (and in fact, to running itself, a pretty stunning result).

Would other teams be happy to add AP? Sure, depending on the cap and cost situation, but AP's marginal value simply isn't high enough to grab the kind of bounty that equates to a reverse Herschel Walker.

21
by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 2:41pm

Are you assuming that the NFL will go back to a hard salary cap after the current labor mess? In the absence of such a cap, there are plenty of owners (Snyder/Jones/Kraft etc.) who wouldn't even notice the difference between Peterson's $10M/year and $3M/year for a mid-first-round rookie RB.

23
by sethburn :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 2:43pm

I can imagine a capless world but even in one their GM's wouldn't want to give out draft picks like candy. Washington's mistakes are unlikely to repeated on the same scale, although they might have plenty of new mistakes in store.

27
by tuluse :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 3:46pm

Agreed on the idea that you should try to collect talent, not get rid of it.

Unless you can pull off a Hershel Walker like trade where you just get a huge pile of picks. However, these trades are very rare for a reason.

3
by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:27pm

doesn't this same thinking also apply equally well to pretty much every nfl team that doesn't have a solid quarterback in place? should the 49ers trade patrick willis? should the deadskins trade brian orakpo? should the panthers trade jordan gross?

maybe the fact that running backs have an especially short lifespan just makes the case even more pronounced here? but then again, we've seen all too many stars at every position fall more quickly than we expected.

4
by Thomas Laboda (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:28pm

One Of the Best Articles I have read on Footballoutsiders. Congratulations!

6
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:32pm

As a Packers fan, I'd be much happier if the Vikings traded AD ASAP. Plus, the small sample size is important. Spielman drafted Vernon Carey ahead of Wilfolk (and traded up one pick to do so) while GM at Miami. Traded a second rounder for AJ Feeley. And his one time trading a star player at his peak was Ogunleye for an past-his-prime Marty Booker and a #3. It's only not as bad as it looks as the #3 turned into Channing Crowder. But it was still a bad trade.

17
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:50pm

Yes, but Spielman only got one year and he was under tremendous pressure to "win now", which led to the Feeley trade and other nonsense, such as trading a 3rd rounder for some RB who was a backup for the Rams. The Dolphins also had a huge need at tackle, hence the trade up for Carey, the last good tackle: not his worst move at all, as Carey is a dependable player. And Ogunleye was holding out and they couldn't get him signed. They wouldn't pay him because he'd only had one good year at that point and the guy was an unknown FA before that. And of course, the offense suffered from an acute lack of playmakers on offense, and Booker fit the "win now" perception.

All in all, Spielman did terrible in a position in which the demands imposed on him would have made it impossible for anyone to do well.

98
by jmaron :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 11:44am

The problem with assigning credit or blame for Spielman's picks in Mia and Minn is that we have no idea how much input he had. They could have been his picks or maybe he actually wanted to go another way.

7
by Lance :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:45pm

Perhaps they could trade AP and a few second round picks to Dallas for like 3 first rounders, a few second rounders, and maybe a handful of journeymen defenders? I know it sounds crazy, but I've heard of such things happening before...

8
by FA (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:56pm

Small sample size.

Also, a few points:

1) I seriously doubt Belichick would trade for a feature back like Peterson unless it comes at discount (like Corey Dillon did). He's a student of drafting and talent evaluation, he knows he can get a more than capable RB in late rounds or free agency, like he did with BJGE and Woodhead, like the Saints did with Thomas and Ivory, like the Texans did with Foster, etc. Besides, his offense doesn't need a feature back, just a change of pace, versatile back that adjusts to his pass-oriented offense. Paying $+10 million to a guy about to hit his prime, who would be a free agent next year unless he extends his contract (which invariably would cost the team more than 10 million a year) when he can pay an undrafted free agent 25 cents and a popsicle to do more or less the same things in his offense sounds to me unsound.

2) There aren't many other teams looking for a feature back. Indianapolis is the most likely candidate to extend an offer for Peterson, but who else (asuming they won't be as stupid as to leave AP in the NFC North)? You said may be the Redskins, but they are in dire need to retool their defense, they need a QB, youth in their offensive line and WRs. They could be set with Torain and Williams at RB, and would be more sensible of them to use their picks to address those issues. Also, they don't have much to negotiate with anyway: other than picks, the other asset they may be inclined to trade would be Haynesworth (to replace Pat Williams). They don't have a QB themselves, nor much talent elsewhere.

I think the Dolphins would be a better suitor, but what could they trade? Their 2011 first round pick, maybe a 2012 second round pick and somebody right? Who's that somebody? As you said, they need youth and talent fast. I just don't see many teams with a talent surplus in other positions looking for a RB with Peterson's characteristics.

3) Is Peterson really worth it? His running style would make him prone to injury (like he has), he has battled fumbling issues in the past and isn't the best pass protector out there. In the past years, the most successful running games were either using zone-blocking schemes, RB-by-commitee approach, or were running from the shotgun position. There isn't much market for South-North, bruising running backs that carry the ball +300 times a game.

So, while I think it's a sensible idea to trade Peterson to get more assets, just like with stocks and options, the market is bearish for that kind of player. At least for now. I think Sidney Rice gives them a better chance to get more picks or maybe a young, talented project player.

19
by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:52pm

Actually, I suspect that there would be quite a bit of demand for Peterson if he were getting 300 carries a game...

I kid, I kid. But seriously, I absolutely agree that it's preposterous for the author to simultaneously:

1. point out the success of guys BJGE

2. assume that somehow Belicheck can't figure out he's got a good thing going and will therefore offer two first-rounders for Peterson

Rational talent evaluation on the part of front offices has (mostly) come a long way since the days of Herschel Walker. No one (apart from the guys in your fantasy league) is going to offer that kind of return, even for the unambiguous #1 RB in the league (which the DVOA numbers indicate is not even close to the case).

9
by andrew :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 12:57pm

I've been arguing that for some time now. I love AP, but I honestly think he's peaked. Or at least the combination of him and that line have peaked.

It will never happen while the vikings are making a stadium push (which will probably fail anyway). But it is the right thing to do. His value will not be this high again.

10
by andrew :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:00pm

I've been arguing that for some time now. I love AP, but I honestly think he's peaked. Or at least the combination of him and that line have peaked.

It will never happen while the vikings are making a stadium push (which will probably fail anyway). But it is the right thing to do. His value will not be this high again.

Although as Steve notes it only makes sense if they turn that into good players. When they traded Moss, right or wrong, yes Oakland didn't get much for him. But the Vikings got an early first rounder... and turned that into Troy Williamson.

12
by Joseph :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:07pm

Sadly, Matt, I think the biggest problem is this: Wilf bought 2 years of BF (who earned every cent in his 1st year--not so last year)--but WITHOUT developing BF's successor. Tavaris Jackson never was, and although I didn't watch Joe Webb, the impression I have from multiple commenters/reporters/etc. says that he isn't anything more than capable backup. Had they tried/been able to develop a guy, your idea might be worth it. As it is, they might need AP to keep some seats filled while they try to develop a QB. Think Steven Jackson for the Rams. Sadly, he will be washed up when Bradford is fully developed and the Rams are contenders. [Wow--did I just type that?] The difference is that AP might be able to wrangle a 2nd contract out of the Vikes--but he will probably want big $ based on his past production, whereas a GM worth his salt would want to pay him for his future production--which, as you mention, won't be as good. If they could agree (maybe BEFORE he finishes this contract) on a deal/extension in the neighborhood of 3 yrs, $15 million + incentives, keeping him might be a better plan.
However, since you mention how easy it is to find RB's, it might be just as easy to keep him, draft somebody in AP's last year, and let him walk as a UFA if his contract demands are outrageous. Because something tells me that trading him for anything less than a 1st & 3rd just isn't gonna cut it with the fans.

13
by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:08pm

I think this article assumes that the Vikings are trying to maximize their chances of winning the superbowl. Almost certainly they are trying to maximize their revenue/income, which is somewhat related, but maybe not as much as you think.

You also have to consider how long the owner is planning on holding onto the team. That changes the time horizon on the revenue/income calculation.

They have a marketable star and someone who will put butts in seats. Don't underestimate the value of that. Whether or not they recover is not going to solely hinge on ditching Peterson. Much more important is their drafting and FA acumen.

Of course if they get a great offer they should consider it, but I think teams are starting to value running backs more appropriately, and so such an offer is not likely.

31
by Key19 :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 4:40pm

Your money point is right on. Especially when they're trying to milk a new stadium out of somebody, it doesn't make sense to trade the most visible and popular face of the franchise.

Would trading Peterson be a wise move? Debatable. Would it ever happen? Absolutely not.

Money drives things way more than fans who spend countless hours yearning for a championship would like to believe.

14
by bubqr :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:23pm

You make the point that BGE, an UDFA is #2 in DVOA and speculates than the Pats might make a move for AP ? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me in terms of perceived value. Moreover, the Colts might trade for OL, surely not for a 3rd 1st round RB.

On another topic, I liked 2010 better, the season where there were nice girls on the left, not weird hypermuscular man. Is that secondary effect of the lockout too ?

15
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:46pm

"Can you imagine the booty Peterson could bag?"

"However, NFL running backs aren't impossible to find."

These two statements appear to conflict with each other. Plus, the terms of any hypothetical trade aren't proposed, making everything a little vague.

I just can't imagine either the Pats or the Colts wanting to give up much for a rb who isn't a major factor in the passing game. Both offenses rely on everyone executing properly and I can't imagine Belichick or Polian wanting to see Peterson whiff on a block and end Brady/Manning season, remember Steve Young's career being ended by a hit off a missed block by Lawrence Phillips?

I could see him with Washington but I think that McNabb would have to be part of the deal and then you'd be looking at something like McNabb and a 2nd rounder for AP.

24
by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 2:47pm

The only reason those statements aren't contradictory is because NFL owners aren't all smart or rational. Yes, RBs are easy to find, but RB is still a sexy position and owners will pay a premium for star power or a big name. Witness Dan Snyder trading a HOF corner plus a second round pick for Clinton Portis, or Jerry Jones drafting Felix Jones in the first round when he already had MBIII in his prime.

25
by Dean :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 3:07pm

So your whole defense of the idea is that some owner might be dumb enough to do it? While you're not necessarily wrong, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

35
by Sophandros :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 5:24pm

"Yes, RBs are easy to find, but RB is still a sexy position and owners will pay a premium for star power or a big name."

I think that a lot of people have taken the "running back is fungible" concept to the extreme. Adrian Peterson quality running backs are not easy to find.

For the most part, running backs are easily replaced. However, elite runners are not, and they are not easily replaced or found via the draft or free agency.

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

51
by CuseFanInSoCal :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 11:47pm

True enough, but there's a pretty good chance even if Minni does everything else right and improves as a team (which as a Packers fan I hope they do not), they're not likely to be contenders until Peterson is declining, and creating a situation similar to what the Chargers had with Tomlinson.

75
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 4:40pm

Decent RBs are fungible, no more than that.

16
by drobviousso :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:47pm

I generally agree that the Vikings need to blow up what they have and start over. Their needs at QB and DB take a while to get up to speed, and they are going to turn into Arizona 2.0 pretty quick.

Alternatively, I'd love to see them try to go Dolphins 2.0 instead. Take whoever they think is going to be a stud tackle with their round 1 pick (Carimi?), draft Kaepernick in round 2 if he's still there or a CB if not, and see if you can get Webb to produce out of the wildcat.

I don't think it'll happen. Everything I see about Frasier is that he's a conservative coach who'd rather lose conventionally than win unconventionally.

18
by Jordan Smith (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:52pm

In my mind there is no doubt the value of AP could be equivalent to that of a first round pick + some. In this years draft the Dolphins are largely projected to take Ingram at the middle of the first round. Now if anyone in the room thinks that Mark Ingram is going to outrun AP anytime in the next 5 years feel free to disagree. AP's impact is immediate, and that's the value in drafting a premium RB or trading for one. Sure there are your Danny Woodheads and Law Firms and Arian Fosters. But these guys are largely unproved, one year wonders, that don't end up having the same long term impact as say a Chris Johnson, AP, Steven Jackson type of player. Many people are right, the problem it really comes down to is money. What teams can really afford AP? The Dolphins are the first team to come to mind. The Bucs are an extremely young and talented team with a lot of cash to blow in their cap. Blount may look cool jumping over people, but he likely isn't the answer at RB. AP could make a team like the Bucs a superbowl contender next year.

Honestly as a diehard Chiefs fan I look back to the 2005 season at Larry Johnson and go "Oh dear god why did they not trade him?" And while AP is 100x the back Johnson ever was the fact comes down to this: rebuilding is just more important. With the shape of that O-line, AP will not be the same commodity he once was. Behind any decent line he will still have some great years of productivity.

20
by dryheat :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:53pm

I'll continue the theme that you are severely, severely, overestimating APs trade value. They might be able to finagle a 2nd round pick.

I mean, as a GM, which would you rather have -- a 26 year old AP with heavy mileage on his treads, a lot of dings, and a lot of fumbles for a high 7-figure annual salary, or a 22 year old Ryan Williams with a couple of test drives on his odometer, a rookie salary for 4 years, and the acquisition cost of a 2nd round pick?

I know which way I'd roll. Given I feel that running back success is about 80% attributable to the offensive line, 15% attributable to the threat of the defense getting burned by the quarterback, and 5% attributable to any inherent RB talent, it's a no-brainer. There's a reason why generally speaking RB is the position that a college player is historically best able to immediately produce in the NFL.

The suggestion of multiple first round picks for Peterson is fanboy fantasy at best, sheer lunacy at worst....and the fact that you debunk your own arguement with the mention of the Herschel Walker trade and the rise of guys like Foster and Green-Ellis makes this an extremely curious read.

22
by sethburn :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 2:41pm

Dryheat pretty much nails it.

26
by tuluse :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 3:44pm

While Matt is probably overestimating AP's value, I think you are undervaluing in.

In AP's favor he's proven that right now he is one of the best players in the league at running the ball. That has value over rolling the dice on a college player.

I would bet the Vikings could find a team willing to give up a 1st round pick, but probably not very much more.

28
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 3:53pm

If we had a repeat of last year's market - no cap, no accelerated bonus money - I would agree with you. But you can't trade players without an agreement and that probably won't happen until after the draft. Could the Vikings trade AD for a 2012 #1 pick? This is where his blocking deficiencies hurt. I could actually see BB or Polian consider giving up the pick if AD could block and was willing to sign a two year extension. I think the best Minnesota can hope for is a #2, though I think several teams would be willing to do so.

73
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 4:24pm

I'd give a #2 for Peterson before you can say "blink".

33
by Minny (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 4:55pm

Jay Cutler, with a serious heatlh issue, netted two 1st round picks, a starting quarterback, and a third round pick recently.

Where does Cutler rank? Top half of quarterbacks? Plus, he isn't loved by teammates. Plus, his health issue is always concerning.

Peterson plays a more demanding position, but it's crazy to think he wouldnt bring in a nice haul.

42
by JonFrum :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:36pm

Jay Cutler = QB

Nuff said.

29
by mansteel (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 3:56pm

"A year ago, 12 men in the huddle kept the team from the Super Bowl."

And this past year, having only 11 men in the huddle kept them from going to the Super Bowl.

69
by armchair journe... :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 1:44pm

+1

32
by Shattenjager :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 4:54pm

I'm sort of glad just to see someone say that the Vikings have a lot of holes. So many people seem to be continuing to sound the theme that this is a "great team without a quarterback" when it's so clearly no longer the case.

I do have to say I find it difficult to believe that Indianapolis or New England (though especially Indy) would give up a bunch to get one of the worst pass-blocking running backs in the NFL. I'm sure, however, that some teams would be willing to give up at least enough to make it a proposition worth considering.

34
by Minny (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 5:00pm

I think some team like the Panthes would trade a lot for him just to bring in fans.

52
by BigCheese :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 12:53am

Yes, the Panthers, whose best five players on their roster probably include TWO RBs, are the PERFECT choice. They'll have to out-bid the Bills, Browns, Jaguars and Rams though....

- Alvaro

54
by BigCheese :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 1:06am

Although come to think of it, the Bills would probably consider it...

- Alvaro

37
by drobviousso :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:01pm

'God D---it Adrian' just doesn't roll of the tongue the same way.

45
by Shattenjager :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:50pm

Yeah, but it has the rare quality of being equally attributable to either Peyton Manning or Sylvester Stallone.

88
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 1:04am

Awesome!

36
by Bionicman :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 5:30pm

As a Colts fan, I don't know what's funnier: the idea that the Colts would give a big contract to a running back with a lot of wear and suspect pass blocking skills, or the idea that any running back would make a difference behind Indy's O-line.

38
by Jimmy :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:19pm

As a fan from a team that has to play this guy twice a year I couldn't disagree with you more. I do agree that AP has problems with his pass protection and possibly as a receiving target but having to try to defend Manning and Peterson at the same time on first and second down would be almost impossible. Bear in mind with my comment that I think Manning is one of the best in the league at getting his RB through the hole by changing the play and/or blocking schemes at the line. Joseph Addai past the line clean is maybe four or five yards; AP past the line clean is a decent chance at a TD. Yes he fumbles too much but the guy is an animal.

39
by Jimmy :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:21pm

To change what I said, Peyton Manning is the best at coordinating a run game from QB. Second on my list would be Brady and Eli together (they are both superlative in this regard, although I might give Eli more props for operating a more varied run game).

89
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 1:08am

Hey, that's how Manning won a SB--"You take away my deep ball, I'll pass to Addai a dozen times and the RBs will rack up 200 yards."

But I wonder--forget the clean hole through the line, since Addai regularly gets hit one and two yards deep in the backfield, how does AP fare in that situation?

44
by dbostedo :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:48pm

"Joseph Addai past the line clean is maybe four or five yards; AP past the line clean is a decent chance at a TD."

I think that's a bit of hyperbole and way overstates the difference between Peterson and Addai. On average, I would think that if you assume 4-5 yards for Addai, Peterson is probably like 6-7 yards on average. Yes, there will probably be a higher rate of big runs, but I think saying a "decent" chance at a TD when the odds are still low is stretching it.

55
by Kal :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 1:48am

AP past the clean is also a good chance at a turnover.

AP is good, but he wasn't even the best RB in the league last year or the year before. Plus he has the advantage of playing behind the Vikings OLine. He's a great talent, don't get me wrong, but not all of that is about him - and he's got a lot of flaws that some of the greater RBs recently (Faulk, Tomlinson in his prime, Holmes) don't have. He is a liability on pass blocking, is not particularly great catching the ball and has huge issues with ball security.

If Minnesota wanted to get rid of him they'd be lucky to get a 2nd rounder at this point. The notion that teams would be breaking down their door to get one is kinda silly; the teams that love good RB play already have good to great RBs, and the teams that don't wouldn't bother with him. This is a solution in search of a problem.

57
by fakeninjitsu :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 2:34am

You clearly don't watch much of the Vikings if you think playing behind their O-Line is an advantage. Their run blocking is abysmal, it's a testament to how good he is that he can produce good numbers under that line. I swear they got pushed back on the line in every short yardage situation, it was pathetic.

Don't know why people keep talking about the fumbles, they went after him to strip it all the time and he didn't cough it up, he changed his technique. Before the ball was out in the open to be had basically.

85
by Kal :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 9:54pm

A lot of AP's rep, though, is based on that performance from two years ago. And while he's not gotten as much help in the last two years as he did then, it's clear that they're still not horrible - they're just not as good as they were.

One of the most damning things, as far as DVOA goes, about AP is that his success rate is so low and has remained low. This means that he'll get big chunks of yards on broken plays but won't be able to get through that first level nearly as much as you'd like him to.

Dunno. Given DVOA and who was above him this year it's hard for me to look at him and go MUST HAVE GIEV FIRST ROUNDAR given that Jamaal Charles, BGE and Arian Foster all ranked ahead of him. He's a good talent, but what team would give a first rounder for him right now?

66
by andrew :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 11:23am

The Vikings O-line is not an advantage. It is IMO one of the worst run-blocking lines in the league. Peterson gets routinely hit 2-3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He has a lot of runs for negative yards, and a lot of them where they aren't due to some superhuman effort.

His rookie season they often got him 3-4 yards before he hit anyone. Especially in that 296 yard game vs. the Chargers. That simply does not happen any more.

Losing Birk was the biggest reason, they seemingly are not on the same page since he left. McKinnie's reputation is much better than what he does, Loadholt is very rough and seems to have picked up some of McKinnie's bad habits. And Hutchinson hasn't been the same since he got injured awhile back. I still hope Hutch can regain his form, but the offensive line is a mess.

86
by Kal :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 9:57pm

In 2010 Minnesota's OLine was ranked 11th for running and 19th for passing. Not horrible, but definitely not a liability in the run game.

Not saying they're stellar, but let's not make them into the Bears.

92
by Jovins :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 1:14am

As someone who watched EVERY vikings game this past year, the offensive line's running rating is hugely dependent upon AP's ability to make something out of nothing.

100
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 12:05pm

The Sanders-era Lions had good offensive line run ratings that expired right around the time he retired. How are the Vikings power rushing numbers? Those seem to correlate best to actual line ability versus that hidden by a good RB.

90
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 1:10am

My God, Andrew, if Ap is used to getting hit 2-3 yards in his own backfield, then he would perfectly at home in Indy!

62
by dryheat :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 8:29am

As a Patriots fan, I'd hope that Belichick would play six or seven in the box every down and thank my lucky stars that the Colts were dumb enough to not run the offense through perhaps the best player in the history of the league.

46
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:55pm

Barry Sanders is still healthy and might be coaxed out of retirement if he thought he could win a Super Bowl.

47
by tuluse :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:59pm

Pretty sure the Lions still have his rights

40
by Minny (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:30pm

To follow up on Jimmy's idea, Peyton Manning will be 35 next year. 35!!
The Colts should make a move like this, or Peyton will retire with just one title.

43
by JonFrum :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 6:47pm

No matter how good a running back is, he's still a running back. Rule changes over the years have dramatically devalued running backs. I don't think the article above said what it would take to get AP, but right now, would you really give a mid-first round choice? You have the choice of taking a running back who has already burned up most of his best years, and paying him top dollar, or else get the player of your choice, with his future ahead of him, and you own him for five years.

I don't care that AP will be better than anyone I draft this year and next - I care about value over time. He's probably worth a first for a franchise that needs to make a splash, but if I'm building a team I'll let someone else pay for him.

And please remember - Belichick got Cory Dillon for a second round pick, and he went for 1600 yards the next year. And he got Randy Moss for a fourth round pick, and he had some success too. If Cory Dillon was worth a two - before the recent 'don't touch the QB/defenseless receiver' rules, can AP be worth more than a one?

91
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 1:14am

But you have to look at it from a seller's perspective. Corey Dillon was a grumbling malcontent for years in Cincy--they were happy to unload him and get what they could. Minny is not in the same boat with Peterson, and so their internal value is quite a bit higher, I assume.

And Moss came from the Raiders, who use a Ouija Board to determine such things--he also produced mediocrely (new word) so a 4th seemed appropriate at the time. Everybody "knew" he was over the hill and unmotivated. (ugh)

96
by Dean :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 9:41am

"Internal value" to use your term, is not completely meaningless, but almost. It matters as to whether or not Minnesota would do the deal. But it doesn't have anything to do with what another team would offer. It means they wouldn't trade him for peanuts - and indirectly it means that they wouldn't trade him at all because it'd be neigh on impossible to get equal/acceptable value in return.

48
by Marcus (not verified) :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 7:43pm

Let's at least try to be reasonable about this. Peterson is worth significantly more than a 2 (it's ridiculous to even suggest that he isn't) and he isn't worth the king's ransom the Vikings paid for Walker 20 years ago. As a Vikings fan, I would want both of the Patriots #1s for Peterson, which probably pegs his actual value in the 1st rounder plus other stuff range. Considering that the Vikings just traded for an elite passer rusher at age 26 in 2008 and it cost them a 1 and two 3s, the price for an potential Hall of Fame running back is probably in that range (although I want slightly more).

Just to clear up common misstatement I'm reading, Peterson doesn't have excessive wear. The guy just finished his 4th season and he's only had 1200 carries in those 4 seasons (he just turned 26 in March). If we assume he is an hall of fame talent, the numbers indicate he's probably around the halfway point of his high level playing career(looking at the carry numbers for most HOF running backs). The team dealing for him could reasonably expect about what we've seen from him for the next 3-4 seasons with diminishing returns after that point. If the selection of Peterson at #7 is lauded as a success due to 4 years of top end production, why wouldn't he be worth at least that much now, especially considering you already know he can produce at an elite level?

49
by dbostedo :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 11:37pm

"Considering that the Vikings just traded for an elite passer rusher at age 26 in 2008 and it cost them a 1 and two 3s, the price for an potential Hall of Fame running back is probably in that range (although I want slightly more)."

I'm going to guess that most teams would value an elite pass rusher much higher than an elite running back. Just a guess though.

53
by BigCheese :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 1:04am

Just ask Charlie Witehurst!

And yes, I would trade Peterson, Johnson, Jackson or Jones-Drew straight up for Ware, Freeney, Allen or Matthews in a heartbeat.

- Alvaro

60
by dryheat :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 8:18am

I'm going to guess that most teams would value an elite pass rusher much higher than an elite running back. Just a guess though.

Or an elite cornerback, or an elite left tackle, or in the case of a 3-4 team, an elite nose tackle....

61
by dryheat :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 8:25am

Well, you're neglecting all those carries at OU in your wear/tear calculations. Second of all, it would take a truly moronic GM (not that there aren't some out there that press the boundary) to offer trade value based on what a player, especially a RB, has done in the past. And your last sentence is baffling. A 22 year-old AP on a five or six year rookie contract was worth the #7 pick in the draft compared to other players that were available. You seem to be suggesting that a 26 year old AP with four years of heavy carries and hits on his body and let's peg a conservative contract figure of 4 years 30 million is somehow worth more than that. That's obviously not the case. I think you have a better chance of seeing Jesus, Mohammed, the Easter Bunny and Al Davis playing freeze tag at the bus station that you do getting one first round pick out of the Patriots for Peterson, let alone two.

68
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 1:42pm

A 22 year-old AP on a five or six year rookie contract was worth the #7 pick in the draft compared to other players that were available.
---------

According to that thinking, base don his lack of mileage, Ryan Leaf is still worth a #2.

72
by dryheat :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 3:09pm

There's a disconnect between what I said, or at least tried to say, and your understanding.

Instead of trying to say it again, I'll just say that in a salary-capped NFL, there is no way a team would give the #7 overall pick, or more, for the 2011 version of AP. I think just about every GM in the game understands that you don't give a multi-year contract on what a player has done, but rather what he is likely to do in the future. GMs that don't understand that, and don't also own the team, don't last long in their jobs.

74
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 4:36pm

You're overlooking that there's a high chance that a rookie 1st rounder will be a bust. AP right now is a guaranteed talent with plenty of football left in him. He's safer than a first round pick, and no rookie is likely to have the ceiling he has reached.

Also, don't underestimate the marketing grand-slam involved in getting a superstar RB, which would justify whatever you have to pay him.

I think two #1s is about right if he were to go in the market.

77
by dryheat :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 5:56pm

That's why there's scouting. I mean, there's also a chance that Peterson fractures his kneecap in the opening game of the season...nothing's guaranteed, and past performance is no indication of future performance.

How much better would the Patriots have been last year replacing Green-Ellis with Peterson? What about the Texans and Foster or the Saints with Ivory? Enough to justify trading a #1 pick to Peterson and paying him what will have to be top 3 RB money?

Someone said it above somewhere, but for the same reasons the Vikings might be better off trading Peterson and using the draft pick and cap space to rebuild elsewhere, other teams are better off getting a cheaper option at RB and using the saved resources elsewhere. The next time a team doesn't win a Super Bowl because their running back wasn't good enough will likely be the first.

If the Vikings get an offer of 2 Number 1s for Peterson, they need to accept on the spot then immediately unplug the phone.

78
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 6:26pm

"The next time a team doesn't win a Super Bowl because their running back wasn't good enough will likely be the first."

Late 90s, 49ers, Derek Loville. Seriously, that team was stacked everywhere but rb.

82
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 6:46pm

Yeah. A better running back than a washed up Edge or overrated Hightower wouldn't have helped the '08 Cardinals at all.

Also, if teh 2007 Pats replaced Laurence Maroney with 2004 Corey Dillon, they probably have a plan B when they couldn't block the Giants at all.

80
by tuluse :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 6:29pm

The next time a team doesn't win a Super Bowl because their running back wasn't good enough will likely be the first.

That's a pretty silly argument while still being cleverly worded so it can't really be refuted. Which makes it a complete waste of text really.

Look at the Ravens from about 2001-2005, how much further could they have gone if they had Adrian Peterson instead of Jamal Lewis?

Edit: Also you are simplifying risk way too far. Just saying "that's what scouting is for" is not acceptable. Bust rates in the first round is well above the likelihood that AP suffers severe enough injuries to not be useful. Just claiming that both options have risk does not refute that trading for AP is much lower risk in the short term.

79
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 6:27pm

How much better would the Patriots have been last year replacing Green-Ellis with Peterson? What about the Texans and Foster or the Saints with Ivory? Enough to justify trading a #1 pick to Peterson and paying him what will have to be top 3 RB money?
-------

You can make a reasonable argument that if the Saints weren't down to "Saints RB #7" against the Seahawks, they win that game, and have at least a puncher's chance the rest of the way. How valuable would a healthy RB have been to NO last year?

94
by dryheat :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 8:06am

Okay...now we're talking matters of health...not talent. Yes, the Saints would have done better with a healthy Adrian Peterson than their injured RBs.

Look, it's hard to imagine Green Bay having a poorer set of running backs last year, and they're the Champs. Denver had huge success starting with Terrell Davis -- but was it really Terrell Davis when Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, and Clinton Portis all came in and had success?

I don't buy that the Cardinals, who were probably the worst team in history to make the Super Bowl, would have won with a better RB either...everything broke right for them to get that far, and as I recall, Hightower had a pretty good year in that pass-driven offense.

Seriously, in recent years, having a poor punter or field goal kicker has dashed teams Super Bowl hopes, moreso than a poor running back.

I'm also seriously getting way off topic. I appreciate the effort and initiative of the author to put up some new material for our reading pleasure during these times. I just think it's not grounded in reality.

101
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 12:09pm

I think you can make the argument that even in Denver, there was a pronounced RB effect.

Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell were good for about 1000 years a season.
Portis was good for about 1400.
Davis was averaging 1800-2000 yards a season. I think it's defensible that he was about twice as good as Denver RB #1, and Portis was 50% better than Denver RB #1.

Denver suddenly started to be able to win the big games when they had TD. They noticeably dropped off in the parts of the GB game where TD was out with a migraine. I think it's a touch obtuse to argue that he didn't play a large role in their two championships.

102
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 3:30pm

You can only make that argument if you completely ignore number of carries, which is quite ridiculous, and distort TD's "average season" completely (1995-1998, he averaged 1603.25 yards per season. For his career, he averaged 1086.71 yards per season or 1560 yards per 16 games. He only topped the lowest number of your stated "average" one time, when he ran for 2008 yards in 1998.), which is equally ridiculous. Portis, by the way, averaged 1549.50 yards per season and 1709.79 per 16 games in Denver.

During Shanahan's tenure in Denver, Clinton Portis, Selvin Young, Ron Dayne, Peyton Hillis, Tatum Bell, and Vaughn Hebron all had a higher ypc than Davis. Portis also averaged 9.4 yards per game more than TD. Here is a list of everyone in Shanahan's tenure who had at least 50 carries, sorted by ypc: http://pfref.com/tiny/EdLCb

Here are the team's rushing statistics during Shanahan's run: http://pfref.com/tiny/aTYw4
2005 (Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, and Ron Dayne) and 2003 (Clinton Portis, Quentin Griffin, and Mike Anderson) both had more rushing yards than any year when TD was on the team. 2003, 2005, 2002 (Clinton Portis and Mike Anderson), and 2008 (Michael Pittman, Peyton Hillis, Selvin Young, Jay Cutler, and Tatum Bell) all had higher ypc than any season when TD was on the team.

Now, if you want to see the real reason why TD had so many more total rushing yards in his two biggest seasons than anyone else did in Denver: http://pfref.com/tiny/TkxyV
In fact, in the franchise's entire history, only one person has ever had 300 carries in a season. TD had 369 carries in 1997 and 392 carries in 1998. It's a lot easier to blow your "competition," so to speak, out of the water in sheer yardage when you get at least 80 extra carries to do it.

104
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 4:28pm

TD 1998 DYAR: 535
DVOA: 22.3%
Clinton Portis 2003 DYAR: 323
DVOA: 17.5%
Mike Anderson 2005 DYAR: 321
DVOA: 20.9

I think it's pretty clear TD was more effective than the following running backs. Although, I don't agree with twice as good.

And really, I don't see why being given more carries is a strike against him. That means the coaches trusted him to handle more of the offense and expected a better rate of return than with the other backs.

105
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 5:42pm

I did not mean to say it was a strike against him. I just meant that it makes the idea of rating the backs entirely according to seasonal rushing totals misguided.

To add to your data set a little:
TD 1995 DYAR: 233
DVOA: 13.7%
TD 1996 DYAR: 296
DVOA: 10.8%
TD 1997 DYAR: 478
DVOA: 21.3%
Clinton Portis 2004 DYAR: 430
DVOA: 27.1%

I would not argue with saying that TD was better than (though certainly not twice as good as) most of the Shanahan-era Denver running backs. But he was nowhere near as much better as saying "he got 1900 yards a year; they got 1000 yards a year" makes it appear.
However, it absolutely not in any way at all clear that he was better in Denver than Clinton Portis in Denver. Portis did not have TD's insane durability (that feels weird to type), but he was better on the carries he got (ypc and DVOA both say so). Further, he didn't have Hall of Famers John Elway and Gary Zimmerman there to help him. Instead, he had Brian Griese, Ephraim Salaam, and Jake Plummer. And that's before we stack up TD's generally poor receiving numbers (below replacement level in 1995 and 1997) against Portis's generally decent receiving numbers.

103
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 4:21pm

it's hard to imagine Green Bay having a poorer set of running backs last year, and they're the Champs

Well then, I guess teams don't need a good quarterback either since the Ravens won with Trent Dilfer.

81
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 6:29pm

The next time a team doesn't win a Super Bowl because their running back wasn't good enough will likely be the first.
------

Go ask the Cleveland Browns what they think about Earnest Byner. =)

On the flip side of the same play, go ask John Elway how valuable a RB is, and how many he won without one. Or how many Dallas would have won with just Emmitt Smith versus just Troy Aikman.

93
by Bobman :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 1:17am

No, you are forgetting about Leaf's current legal issues. He'd have to sit out at least 4-6 games because of his law-breaking/bad conduct, and nobody in their right mind wants to spend a #2 on Ryan leaf if he's gonna miss six games. (now if he had to miss all 16/18, they'd consider it....)

71
by tuluse :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 2:27pm

I think you are overestimating what draft picks are worth and how long coaches and GMs plan for. They don't care if a player is still useful in 8-10 years because in all likelihood they're going to be gone anyways. Getting 4 years of HOF production from just about any position on the field is worth a 1st round pick.

All that said, I don't think the Patriots would go after him because he isn't a good blocker and they already had the league's 2nd best rushing attack without him.

64
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 9:08am

Whether he's worth more than a 2 is not as important as whether a team would be willing to give up more than a 2. Yes, Peterson is potentially a HoF. But Portis looked the same way before he left Denver. Other than Washington, there aren't many owners/GMs that might trade a #1 for him because they either don't usually trade picks for players (Indy, San Diego) or they already have decent RBs (Oakland). And they wouldn't trade AD to GB or Detroit for a #1 even if offered.

If Peterson were the equivalent caliber at QB, LT, DE, OLB, CB, or probably WR, I could easily see giving up a #1 and probably more. But RB, like interior OL, ILB, and S, just isn't going to net as much. (I'm not sure about TE, but I think an elite TE like Gates or Finley would net a #1 at 26.) That's just the reality.

67
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 1:12pm

Portis' performance in his Washington tenure is definitely worth a first round pick.

The last two years have been bad, but not many first round picks put up the production that Portis did.

Draft picks are still no sure thing, and for a player of Peterson's caliber, a first round pick is probably worth it. You are getting a 25 years old running back, with no injury history and someone who at least on paper had a better year in 2010 than in 2009.

83
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 8:52pm

Which 25 year old RB has no injury history?

84
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 9:25pm

Peterson has missed 3 games in his career. Yes, he had the ACL injury at Oklahoma, but in the NFL he's been as durable as they come, and his carries have been limited the past two years. He's probably a couple of years away from any type of decline.

95
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 8:42am

He dropped to the Vikings at #7 mainly because he had a rep as injury-prone. If not for that, he would have been drafted in the top 2-3 picks. He also had a broken collarbone and another injury. It was believed the injuries had much to do with his running style. That he hasn't been seriously injured as a pro is as much luck. He missed playing time his rookie year with a LCL injury. He also has had hamstring issues. He's been very productive, even when banged up. But you said "no injury history". These are all reasons why no GM in his right mind is going to give a first round pick for Peterson. I totally agree that many GMs will gladly give a #2 pick though.

107
by andrew :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 7:29pm

He may not have missed as much time but he still took a terrific beating. I know to some degree everyone gets nicked up in the year but I think he declined more than most even when he kept playing. He's not like Sanders in eluding most hits. Even when he eludes people he often then finishes with a collision. That's just his style.

I tell ya he's on the proverbial "Edge".... Just a feeling I get from him. Maybe not this year but not too much longer. Then he won't be worth a 5th rounder.

50
by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 04/04/2011 - 11:41pm

Any tean traiidng for A. Peterson goignn to want to give him a good look over firts amd going to want to check out his teeth

56
by theslothook :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 2:20am

Jon K GALbraith said writers that use humor tend to overreach farm more than getting it just right. The writing was good and well composed, but was a little too playful(just my opinion).

As far as the vikes go, they are somewhat similar to kansas city during the middle of the decade. That team had glaring weaknesses but enough good talent to keep them hovering around contention for years before ultimately, age whittled away that talent and they fell totally apart. So what can the vikes do? When you are a franchise with a ton of questions heading forward, the most logical choice points to a qb. Its sad, but no other position directly controls as big a part of the team's success as the qb. Sad that so many other teams face similar qb needs but that should be the direction the vikes take. As for trading AP, i would agree although I'm not so sure the other nfl teams don't themselves realize the long term fallacies of acquiring a mid career RB who will demand a huge payday.

58
by speedegg :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 2:49am

Since the Vikings are rebuilding it makes sense to maximize trade value, so offering AP seems logical. And just when I think a team wouldn't cough up a high draft pick Washington and Oakland surprise me, so the idea does have merit. The bigger question would be who do they draft this year with whatever pick they get for AP, a questionable QB or a solid D-lineman?

Love the humor, sounds like the tortured soul of Mark Wilf (team President) facing the inevitable...

59
by t.d. :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 7:29am

besides, if that doesn't work, it'll put them in contention for andrew luck

63
by young curmudgeon :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 9:08am

One of the muscle guys has a giant trilobite crawling up his torso.

Oh, Catholic Match Girl, we mourn your departure...

65
by tally :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 10:33am

On the other hand, neither Drew Brees nor the Manning brothers will play quarterback for Minnesota.

Statement of fact or did Scribbins just label Eli a savior alongside Peyton and Brees?

70
by Babysdaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 1:52pm

Matt Scribbins you are a man of all men, which I think is indicative by your everyday prowess and your fathers amazing Mustache. I think this is a great article and surprisingly unbiased for someone who holds season tickets and has a Vikings shrine in their basement. The Vikings might want to bring you into their front office. First they need to figure out where those offices will be located because HHH is a dump.

Signed
Jackson

76
by thendcomes :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 4:59pm

"It is conceivable the Vikings could ride AP to a Super Bowl soon. Among the last five Super Bowl Champions, three (Saints, Giants, and Colts) had running backs finish in the Top 5 of rushing DVOA. These same teams didn't have defenses that finished better than 14th in DVOA. The Vikings could certainly achieve both of those measures next year. On the other hand, neither Drew Brees nor the Manning brothers will play quarterback for Minnesota."

To pick on one thing, that whole paragraph is reductive and misguided. I know you're just providing a counterpoint as a devil's advocate, but it's not conceivable, at least to me, that the Vikings would have any chance next year. Also, none of those teams rode their RB to the Super Bowl, and none had a great rushing attack because their running backs were great. To provide this fact as support for the claim is inane, let alone it's the only support provided.

Overall, very unimpressed with the article. Too much rhetoric, cherry-picked FO stats, false premises/conclusions, and very Vikings-centric exhibiting little knowledge of the other teams mentioned. The effort put in shines through, but it's not up to FO standards by any stretch.

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by Theo :: Tue, 04/05/2011 - 10:29pm

Someone explain to this guy that 4 years in the NFL is 2 years in real life.

97
by tally :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 10:10am

Hey, while the logic may be faulty at times, I'm just glad the "fixing" referenced in this article had nothing to do with Favre's schlong.

99
by Theo :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 12:04pm

Shouldn't that be the other way around, myself?
- Ah, yes it should.

106
by Edge (not verified) :: Wed, 04/06/2011 - 7:11pm

The guy who said Tim Hightower had a good year when the Cards went to the Superbowl is a boob. Hightower was handed the starting job because Whisenhunt didn't like Edge, or perhaps his contract (which was too much for the Cards) and Hightower stank up the field all season. He didn't even get three yards per carry. Their rushing game was much better with James, and it showed when they went back to him in the playoff run. The only thing Hightower was good for that year was they used him on the goalline, so he got a bunch of touchdowns.