Todd Gurley Could Replace Adrian Peterson


Following the recent events that have occurred with Adrian Peterson, many Minnesota Vikings fans are calling into question whether No. 28 will ever suit up in a purple uniform again.

Sep 7, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) looks on during the second half against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. The Vikings defeated the Rams 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Peterson has been the Vikings’ best offensive weapon since he was drafted back in 2007. From the beginning years when Tavaris Jackson was under center for the Vikings, through the Brett Favre era, to present day; Peterson has been the main source of opposing defensive coordinators’ nightmares.

This past weekend when the Peterson news broke, I began to wonder who would play running back for the Vikings moving forward. Matt Asiata is too slow, as he has only averaged 3.6 yards per carry throughout his career. Jerick McKinnon could be the future starter for the Vikings, but it is way too early to tell, as he has only two regular season games under his belt.

Enter Todd Gurley, a 6-foot-one, 230-pound running back from the University of Georgia.

Sep 13, 2014; Columbia, SC, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) rushes against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Gurley has everything NFL scouts look for in a running back. He is fast, capable of running a low 4.4 40-yard dash, according to ESPN’s draft profile, has good size and has put up impressive statistics throughout his college career. In 2014, he has recorded 329 rushing yards on 35 carries, which amounts to an astounding 9.4 yards per carry. Essentially, Gurley is nearly averaging a first down every time he carries the ball. He has scored four rushing touchdowns this year and returned a kick for a touchdown against Clemson.

In 2013, Gurley recorded 989 yards on 165 carries, averaging 6.0 yards per carry, with 10 rushing touchdowns. He can also be a threat in the passing game, recording 37 receptions for 441 receiving yards and six touchdowns. While Peterson is a great runner, he has not proven to be an effective receiver out of the backfield, which is why the Vikings normally would take him out on third down. Peterson also had a fumbling issue in his first couple years with the Vikings. With Gurley, however, fumbling likely would not be a problem, as he fumbled only twice in his first two seasons at Georgia.

Given his high upside, Gurley will likely be taken in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, despite being a running back, which may make him difficult for the Vikings to acquire. Just today, ESPN’s Todd McShay ranked Gurley 12th on his NFL Draft Big Board. Gurley is putting up big numbers this year, and NFL scouts are noticing. He is considered by many, myself included, to be a front runner to win the Heisman Trophy.

Aug 30, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) returns a kickoff for a touchdown against the Clemson Tigers during the second quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings’ win-loss record will likely suffer without Peterson in the lineup this season, which could result in a higher draft pick. With Vikings’ general manager Rick Spielman’s draft day track record, anything could happen. With the possibility that Adrian Peterson will never take the field as a Viking again, Rick Spielman and the rest of the Vikings’ front office better pay close attention to what Gurley is doing down in Athens, Georgia this year. He very well might be the successor to Adrian Peterson.

Henry Dorgan is a Sports Blogger for Sporting Sota. Follow him on Twitter at @HDtheTVman