Drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, the bruiser from Stanford has been, from time to time, asked to fill in for the powerful Adrian Peterson or provide relief on sustained drives. Disregarded in his rookie year as a blocking back, Gerhart has made quite an impression with observers and stands to be a remarkably successful running back who could start in most systems.
His 2011 statistics alone speak to the fact that he outpaces a number of other running backs in the league—he ranked 13th in the NFL in yards per carry, at 4.9, and ninth in yards after contact, with 2.97.
Some of the more obscure statistics pop out, too: He's forced 23 missed tackles, making him the second best in the league in missed tackles per carry at 0.21. Toby has been asked to pass-block 80 times, and in that time, he's only given up one sack. With only one fumble to his name, Gerhart jumps off the page.
The data show that he is a passing threat as well and caught a staggering 89 percent of passes thrown his way—the second most of any running back with over 25 targets. His yards per reception is about league average, and he's a viable checkdown option on every play.
Again and again, he finds himself among top starters in key stats. He finished 2011 with higher yards per carry than Matt Forte, Ryan Mathews and LeSean McCoy and more yards after contact than Darren McFadden, LeGarrette Blount and Maurice Jones-Drew.
But beyond the numbers, he's also good on film. With average vision, good speed and great burst, he'd be an immediate starter for many NFL teams. While many players in the league could chase him down after a short stretch, his powerful running style also makes him difficult to tackle.
He is an adequate route runner and certainly surpasses a number of backs in this area. More importantly, he adjusts to the ball well and exhibits good instincts in the passing game.
Toby has showed an understanding of the Vikings' blocking scheme as well and has done a good job of picking up blitzes when being asked to stay in the pocket for pass protection.
We'll see more of him at the beginning of this next season, as the Vikings will want to reduce the load on an injured and potentially hampered Adrian Peterson.
For this exercise, finding teams that would see Toby Gerhart as an upgrade is perhaps the most demonstrative explanation for his inclusion in this list. Any of these teams might be persuaded into giving up a good draft pick for him: the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, and the Washington Redskins.
Problems with LeGarrette Blount have resurfaced in Tampa Bay, while St. Louis might want to plan for a future without Steven Jackson, so either of those teams might be happy with Gerhart as well.