We'll have our first edition of the 2016 installment of our Mock Draft Database posted here the weekend before the Combine starts, and with the Minnesota Vikings picking much farther down the draft board than we've seen the past couple of years, we should see a pretty big variety of names projected to our favorite team with the 23rd overall pick. Still, Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting has managed to tie one name to the Vikings that I don't think many people would expect.
University of Alabama running back Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner.
Two player-team connections I've heard so far that may be the pick if this player falls to their spot: RB Derrick Henry to the Vikings (surprising, but not without reason if they feel he's one of the few first-round prospects) and OT Jack Conklin to the Colts.
Now, while I'm sure this is going to trigger another huge "the Vikings are going to trade Adrian Peterson/no they're not" row, it might not be the dumbest idea ever.
Henry was an absolute battering ram for the Crimson Tide this past season. The 6'3", 242-pounder was the centerpiece of Alabama's championship squad, as he rushed for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns. If the Vikings were looking for a long-term "thunder" option to potentially pair with the "lightning" of Jerick McKinnon, Henry might not be a terrible choice. Sure, Alabama pretty much ran him into the ground in 2015, but if he could spend 2016 essentially caddying for Peterson, he'd be able to recover from that.
As far as Peterson goes, here's a look at his salary cap figures, courtesy of the folks from Over the Cap.
You can see that Peterson's cap hit for 2016 is actually $4.65 million less than it was for 2015, and that's a figure that the Vikings can apparently live with. However, in 2017 that figure goes up to $18 million, and I'm sorry. . .there isn't a 32-year old running back anywhere that's worth $18 million in today's National Football League, particularly if he has another season with a heavy workload under his belt.
I don't know if the Minnesota Vikings will draft Derrick Henry, and I certainly don't know if they're going to draft him in the first round. But the rumblings are at least there, and there is an argument to be made for it. Depending on how the Vikings address some of their other needs (offensive line, wide receiver, and safety), we could be in for a draft night surprise like this one.