As a former NFL linebacker, Jon Beason has a familiarity with running backs.
Beason, who played for the Panthers from 2007-13 and the Giants from 2013-15, now works as an analyst for CBS Sports. He recently graded a few free agency moves across the league, including the Vikings signing of former Raiders running back Latavius Murray.
*Viking Update's *Tim Yotter highlighted Beason's assessment of the transaction and said the 'B' grade given to Minnesota was the best of three running back moves he reviewed. Beason referred to Murray as "a younger version of Adrian Peterson."
"I think the guy is a special talent that can do it all – he can take it the distance, he's good catching the ball and he runs behind his pads," Beason said. "He is a hard tackle."
Beason said the grade didn't necessarily reflect Murray's full potential, but he held back because the Vikings "have to do a better job with the guys up front" after a tough season for the offensive line in 2016.
Since free agency opened on March 9, the Vikings have signed two tackles – Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers – to work on strengthening the line and hopefully help Minnesota run game for 2017.
Coller: Don't rule out McKinnon
Amidst the buzz of the Murray signing, ESPN 1500's Matthew Coller is reminding fans not to rule out running back Jerick McKinnon.
Coller said the Vikings have a variety of ways to utilize McKinnon, and he shouldn't be expected to "disappear because they added another running back. In fact, he might even find his most effective role yet."
Coller broke down McKinnon's stats from 2016 and looked at the way in which his play differed in the two halves of the season. He wrote that getting the ball to McKinnon should be "under the list of top offseason priorities" for Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, pointing out that McKinnon had only 4.3 yards per catch on throws behind the line of scrimmage, but that increased to 7.1 yards on passes beyond the line of scrimmage.
According to Coller, McKinnon could be a good option in screen situations on "quick throws that create space for the runner or on routes underneath zone coverage." He opined that the Vikings could find success in a "running back by committee" philosophy, utilizing both Murray and McKinnon.
Running back rotations worked brilliantly for several teams in the NFL last season, including Oakland with Murray. While he rushed for around 300 fewer yards than in 2015, the Raiders averaged the sixth-most rushing yards per game and ranked 10th in yards per carry. The fifth-best team in yards per game, Atlanta, used a combo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman and the Patriots, who ranked seventh, used a ground-and-pound back in LeGarrette Murray and receiving threat in James White.
This Monday at 2pm I'm going to be delivering $10,000 in @adidas gear to the Boys & Girls Club in Immokalee! Come out and support the cause!
— Mackensie Alexander (@MackAlexander20) March 19, 2017
Mackensie Alexander back in the community
Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander is preparing to enter his second NFL season.
In addition to prepping for a return to the field, however, Alexander is also giving back to his community. More specifically, Alexander continues to give back to his hometown of Immokalee, Florida. He posted on Twitter Sunday about a donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs.
This is the not the first time Alexander has contributed to the Immokalee organization he was a part of while growing up. Last May, he also partnered with Adidas for a similar donation.