EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Close your eyes and imagine it, Vikings fans: Robert Griffin III and Adrian Peterson in the same backfield, working opposing defenses into a tizzy and electrifying the Metrodome with a read-option attack.
Griffin and Peterson, who share an agent, had talked about the possibility before the 2012 draft, Griffin said Tuesday, and though he added he didn't have any contact with the Vikings' front office, he was told by people on the outside that if he'd fallen to No. 3 in the draft, the Vikings "weren't going to leave me there."
Now open your eyes, realize the reason the Vikings didn't have any contact with Griffin was because there was no way he was going to slip past No. 2. And if you like, thank Joe Webb for having the game of his life on Christmas Eve 2011.
The Vikings beat the Washington Redskins that day, overcoming Peterson's torn ACL and getting their third win in large part because of Webb, who spelled an injured Christian Ponder and directed three touchdown drives in a 33-26 Vikings victory. That game meant the Vikings would wind up picking third, not second, in the draft, and wouldn't have a shot to take the Heisman Trophy winner. The Redskins traded three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams in March 2012 for the No. 2 pick and the right to draft Griffin. The Vikings could have, at the very least, gotten a similar bounty for the No. 2 pick, or they could have taken Griffin.
"They try to tell you you never know what can happen," Griffin said in a conference call Tuesday. "Specifically, I was told by a few people from the outside that if I had fallen to No. 3 they weren't going to leave me on the board. But nothing as far as them wanting to move up or just dying to have me. Just kind of if I was there, they were going to take me."
We've never seen Peterson in a read-option scheme, though the Vikings showed flashes of it with Webb in their playoff game against the Packers last year. It's hard to know exactly how much of it the Vikings would have used if they had Griffin, or whether Peterson would have taken to it after lining up behind the quarterback for most of his career. But it's safe to say that with two dynamic players like that in the backfield, the Vikings could have at least had something very entertaining.
It still seems a bit hard to believe the Vikings would have behaved the same way with the No. 2 pick that they would have if Griffin had been there at No. 3. They had just drafted Ponder the year before and liked Matt Kalil, whom they ended up drafting fourth overall once they traded with the Cleveland Browns. If Griffin had slipped to third overall, it might have meant Kalil was off the board, but had the Vikings picked second, they might have been swayed by the bounty they could have reaped in a trade. But that alternative could still have left the Vikings in an attractive position.
On Tuesday, as the Vikings prepared to play Griffin a year after he ran for a 76-yard touchdown against them, coach Leslie Frazier wanted no part of thinking about what might have been.
"Next question, please. Anybody else got a question? We just want to win!" Frazier said with a laugh. "2011, 2010, 2013, a win. I'm not looking at what's happening at the draft. I just want us a win. That might be a question for Rick Spielman and [team president] Mark [Wilf] or [owner] Zygi [Wilf], but not Leslie Frazier. Every game we play, I'm going to tell you this, we're going to try to win."