Peterson is a big back with big play potential. He can do everything expected from a running back. His only weakness is in the passing game.
Peterson was consistently replaced on third down by Toby Gerhart. Gerhart left via free agency and a void has opened in the Vikings backfield.
The other running backs are inexperienced or are better suited for other roles. Matt Asiata got a taste of being a primary ball carrier late last season, but take away one 39 yard run and he averaged 2.9 yards per carry. The others include a second-year player with three games and no carries under his belt (but did have one catch) and a diminutive first-year player.
Right now, Asiata would probably be the backup, but he is more valuable as a special teams player. Joe Banyard and Bradley Randle would battle for the other spot. Banyard has the experience advantage, but Randle has the skill set advantage.
The Vikings also have a fullback that may be better suited to fill Gerhart’s role than any of the running backs. Zach Line was signed as an undrafted rookie last summer. He wasn’t a very good lead blocker as a fullback for the Vikings last season after playing running back for SMU in college. He is a good receiver and is the best fit on the current roster to do what Gerhart did.
Jerome Felton remains as the lead blocker for Peterson. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner has talked about getting Peterson more involved in the passing game, which would limit Felton’s role and opportunity to play.
The Vikings are likely to add another running back before training camp, whether or not that comes in the draft is to be seen. Here are the top five running backs in the draft.