… This is what they got.
Now, as you all know (If you’re reading this site article), the Vikings signed highly coveted former Raiders running back Latavius Murray a little over a week ago. What you may not know is exactly what type of player the Vikings got by signing the 27 year old back, as Oakland plays in the AFC and rarely crosses paths with the Vikings (Despite the fact that the Vikes did play them in 2015, a game in which Murray had 12 rushes for 48 yards, five receptions for 29 yards and zero touchdowns). Thankfully, Matthew Coller of ESPN 1500 reached out to Ted Nguyen of RaidersAnalysis.com to get a briefing on Murray.
Nguyen broke down Murray as follows:
“Murray is OK at catching. He’ll catch the easy ones but don’t expect him to reach out for passes. He’s a great pass protector, maybe one of the best in the league. Big, fast Athlete. He’s tall and runs upright, which gets him in trouble. Doesn’t lower the shoulder as much as you want. Vision is below average, feet are average to below average. [Murray] got better at zone running but not ideal. His best fit is in a gap scheme where he could just run full speed into a hole. Goes down on first contact more than people realize.”
There’s nothing earth shattering here as it’s been documented on our site that Murray is an upgrade at both blocking (Typically listed as a top three or four blocker in the league) and pass catching over Adrian Peterson. However, it may come as a surprise to some that a guy of Murray’s size (6’3″, 230 pounds) “Goes down on first contact more than people realize.” Now, considering the fact that the Vikings new offensive line is looking to be mediocre at best, that may be pretty bad news, especially to fans who have become accustomed to Peterson, a running back that broke tackles and made his millions lowering his shoulder, something that Murray apparently doesn’t do as “much as you want”. Now, during his time in Minnesota, Peterson helped elevate mediocre-to-bad offensive lines and offenses (In general) with his ability to do as much so it may, again, cause some concern in fans who weren’t enamored with the Vikings free agency period (Thus far) to begin with.
So, while it seemed that Vikings fans were mostly elated by the pick-up of Murray, so much so that it seemingly salvaged free agency for a lot of us, this could mean that we’re putting far too much stock in the Central Florida product. However, the ability to stay on the field for all three downs and also block AND catch passes out of the backfield should hopefully make up for this as it’ll provide a lot of opportunities that Peterson didn’t have. Not only that, but his elite blocking will also help open up pass plays down the field, something that Peterson could never do, which was extra aggravating considering the fact that the Vikings never really were able to get their play action game off the ground, despite having their best running back in franchise history. That blocking ability should also help elevate the line in that regard as well, so you can’t overlook that aspect of Murray’s game considering how great he appears to be at it.
So, by no means am I going to panic over the word of one writer. It’s just something worth noting when considering the newest Viking running back. I, personally, can’t wait to see what Murray brings to this team and know that anything will be an upgrade over the running game (Or lack thereof) that the team had in 2016 and the blocking game (Or lack thereof, again) of Peterson. So, I’m going to go into this not so much comparing Murray to Peterson, as those are hard cleats to fill but comparing the rushing game in 2017 to the rushing game of 2016. I do believe that with the additions that the team has made to offensive line, combined with the addition of Murray will not only really improve the run game but the offense as a whole. That should help elevate the defense and hopefully avoid a mid-to-late season collapse like the Vikings experienced last season. So, really, I’m excited and think that a lot of you should be too!