What we learned Wednesday at NFL Scouting Combine

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings might be losing their all-time leading rusher in Adrian Peterson, and the franchise couldn't have picked a better time to potentially be in the market for new blood at the position in the draft.

The club did not exercise its contract option on Peterson, which will make him an unrestricted free agent next week, although both club and player have indicated that he could remain in Minnesota with a new contract. No matter what happens, the 2017 NFL Draft has all the running back talent a team could ask for. Vikings GM Rick Spielman said it's the strongest draft class of running backs he can remember.

"I would say it is. I don't remember this amount of running backs coming out," Spielman said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We just got out of our draft meeting, and there is a significant amount of talent at that position. To be honest, I can't remember a year where the draft class at running back was this deep."

The group begins with big names such as LSU's Leonard Fournette, FSU's Dalvin Cook and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, but that trio only scratches the surface. The Oklahoma tandem of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon offer plenty of potential, and Tennessee's Alvin Kamara -- who ranks as the draft's fourth-best back by NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock -- isn't to be overlooked, either. The draft is nearly two months away, however, and Minnesota's negotiation dance with Peterson is looming  sooner.

Asked if it was a good year to need a running back in the draft, Spielman didn't concede the Vikings would.

"If you need one," he said.

Here are eight other things we learned Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine:

  1. The Arizona Cardinals just might be in the market to find Carson Palmer's successor at quarterback. GM Steve Keim was candid about the timing being right to develop one, and the club hasn't taken a QB flier in the draft since Logan Thomas in 2014, and Thomas is no longer with the club.

"There's no better time to take a young quarterback when you have a guy like Carson, who can help develop him," Keim said."... We know it's a QB-driven league, but you can't force the pick, either. You've got to like what you see on tape (and) off the field, because if you take a quarterback high and he doesn't pan out, it's going to set you back for years."

Keim and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said there are 4-6 quarterbacks available in the draft whom they find intriguing.

  1. Speaking of quarterbacks, Browns GM Sashi Brown isn't speaking in absolutes when it comes to speculation about QB Mitch Trubisky's height and the implications of his measurements. The former North Carolina star was listed at 6-foot-3 by UNC, but scouts have speculated he will measure shorter Thursday at the combine. To Brown, it's of little consequence.

"If he can play, he can play. Russell Wilson and others have been under what is the standard NFL profile," Brown said. "We want to understand that piece of it. It's an aspect of what we'll look at, and it does help to be able to see over taller offensive linemen, but that's not going to necessarily, on its own, disqualify him."

  1. There's no way to know just how many NFL clubs will place Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon on their draft boards, and how many will leave him off due to his baggage. But one puzzle piece fell into place Wednesday, as Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn confirmed that Mixon is on the Lions' radar.
  1. As soon as LSU RB Leonard Fournette weighed in at the combine at 240 pounds, experts weighed in with opinions on it. Too big? No worries? It made for interesting Wednesday speculation, but whether Fournette can carry that much size will come into much better perspective Friday when he works out for scouts.
  1. Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh wasn't shy about the edge he has in evaluating prospects from Michigan, with brother Jim coaching the Wolverines: "Do I talk to Jim about those guys? Yeah. I have a pretty good handle on all of those guys based on what Jim thinks of those guys," Harbaugh said. Michigan has 14 players at the combine, more than any other school.
  1. USC OT Zach Banner told College Football 24/7 at the Reese's Senior Bowl that he expected to weigh in the 330s at the combine. The massive former Trojan didn't quite get there, weighing 353, but that's down eight pounds from his Senior Bowl weigh-in.
  1. Top prospects Myles Garrett of Texas A&M and Deshaun Watson of Clemson had some fun at the Cleveland Browns' expense in recent weeks, but Browns GM Sashi Brown insists the club won't hold it against them. With Cleveland holding the No. 1 and 12 picks of the draft, that should be a relief for both.
  1. While Fournette's weight was up, another of the draft's power rushers weighed in light. Texas' D'Onta Foreman, who was listed at 249 pounds in college, was significantly lighter Wednesday at 233 pounds. If the trimmed-down Foreman translates to more explosiveness and a better-than-expected clocking in the 40-yard dash Friday, he'll have a chance to distinguish himself at one of the draft's deepest positions.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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