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Vikings draft RB Gerhart in second round to complement Peterson

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- When Toby Gerhart got to college at Stanford, he said he wanted to be like Adrian Peterson.

Now Gerhart will play with Peterson in the same backfield.

The Minnesota Vikings traded up 11 spots in the second round of the NFL draft to take Gerhart on Friday night, giving Peterson a powerful running mate in Minnesota.

Can't underestimate Gerhart

Mike Mayock: At 6 feet and 231 pounds, Toby Gerhart is faster than you think. He's a fullback size with tailback speed, provides scheme versatility. He'll be part of Minnesota's offense. He's a downhill guy who lowers his pads and maximizes every run. He can even catch the football out of the backfield. This kid is a better athlete than people want to give him credit for, and with this pick, I think the Vikings just helped themselves on their quest to win a Super Bowl.

"I remember when I first started college, Adrian Peterson was the man in college," Gerhart said. "I remember saying I want to emulate my game after him. I want to be as good as he is. The opportunity to go there, to play with him, to learn under him and complement him is really a huge honor and a dream come true."

From a productivity standpoint, Gerhart was right on par with Peterson's electric career at Oklahoma.

Gerhart was the runner-up to Alabama's Mark Ingram for the 2009 Heisman Trophy in the closest race in the award's history. He rushed for 1,871 yards and scored 28 touchdowns for Stanford last season.

The Vikings paid a price, giving the Houston Texans their second-round pick (No. 62 overall) and their third-round selection to move up and grab a replacement for Chester Taylor, who signed with the NFC North rival Chicago Bears during the offseason.

"We felt that was a very important position to go get since we lost Chester," Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said.

Gerhart won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back, leading the nation in rushing yards and touchdowns.

"You have to have two backs in this league," Spielman said. "One back, regardless of how great that back is, to take a 16-game pounding and plus hopefully into the playoffs, it just wears and tears on a body. Everywhere I've been, we've always had two pretty good backs.

With their first pick in the second round (first pick of this draft), the Vikings grabbed Virginia cornerback Chris Cook.

Minnesota's secondary is anchored by one of the shortest cornerbacks in the business -- 5-foot-9 veteran Antoine Winfield. With the 6-foot-2 Cook, they added some size to help cover the likes of Calvin Johnson and Greg Jennings in the NFC North.

Cook led the Cavaliers last year with four interceptions, including one he returned 58 yards for a touchdown.

Cook will help bolster a secondary that was banged up last season. Cornerback Cedric Griffin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the NFC Championship Game in January, and he might not be back to 100 percent by the start of the season. Winfield also missed six games with a foot injury and will turn 33 in June.

"There's no such thing as too many cornerbacks," Vikings coach Brad Childress said.

Cook missed the 2008 season because of academic issues. He also only managed to do seven bench-press repetitions of 225 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, the second-lowest total among defensive backs.

Cook said a shoulder injury hampered his performance on the bench, but he's fully healthy and ready to go now.

The Vikings used nearly all of their allotted seven minutes to make the pick, entertaining possibilities to trade down in the draft again. In the end, they stayed with the pick and bypassed Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen for the second day in a row to add Cook.

"When I watch those guys, a lot of them have an attitude about them that's like, 'You won't beat me on this play or the next play,'" Cook said. "I feel like those are the type of guys that I need to be around."

The Vikings traded the 30th overall pick Thursday night to the Detroit Lions, moving down four spots in a deal that also allowed them to go up 28 spots in the fourth round and add a seventh-round selection.

One position that doesn't appear to be a priority is finding a quarterback of the future. Brett Favre has yet to tell the Vikings if he will return for a 20th NFL season and second in Minnesota.

Even if Favre does, as many expect, he will turn 41 in October. Despite Favre's reputation as the NFL's ultimate iron man, he isn't the long-term answer at quarterback for the Vikings.

The Vikings also have veterans Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels on the roster, but neither has asserted himself as the heir apparent to Favre, whenever he does decide to walk away.

The Vikings could have drafted Clausen, the highly touted quarterback who tumbled down the board, at No. 30. He was there again at No. 34, but the Vikings passed on him again before the Carolina Panthers took him at No. 48.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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