Quick! We need more buildup to the NFL Draft! The top prospects do not have enough pressure on them. Will they bust or become perennial Pro Bowlers? Matt Sussman and Tuffy examine both sides of each coin, writing articles from the year 2011 “looking back” on the top 2007 draft picks. Just another reason to own a flux capacitor.
Adrian Peterson The Bust
MINNEAPOLIS — When Adrian Peterson fell all the way to the seventh pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, Vikings fans across the state felt they had stolen the best running back in the draft. Rob Brzezinski, Vikings general manager at the time, agreed. “We got away with one today,” Brzezinski smirked. Considering the recent history of poor and even forgetful draft selections over the previous few seasons, it certainly seemed the Vikings had indeed pulled Peterson out from under the other franchises.
When no other owners sought prosecution of Zygi Wilf for violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 2314 (transportation of stolen goods over state lines), perhaps someone should have been suspicious. However, Peterson delivered the goods himself for the 2007 season. He showed up in the best health of his career and strapped the team on his back, leading them to a 10-6 record with the same brute force with which he slammed through defensive lines.
After 401 carries, 1620 yards, and a respectable second-round playoff exit, the 2008 season fell into the Super Bowl or Bust category. When the Vikings went 6-10 and Peterson tried to shake off nagging injuries to his shoulder and hamstrings all season, the franchise fretted but could do nothing but reload and hope Peterson could regain the form he showed in his rookie campaign.
Peterson struggled off the field as well. He became moody and withdrawn, even from teammates and especially from the media. A DUI arrest in Eden Prairie, MN, in February 2009 brought Peterson’s maturity and devotion into question when his love for football was cited as his strongest point merely two years previous.
Peterson scuffled again in 2009, hiding a turf toe problem after the fan abuse heaped upon him for his 2008 injuries. He only reached 842 yards and finally shut down his season in Week 14 when the Vikings were eliminated from playoff contention.
Running backs, more than any other position, have only so many miles they can handle. After so many carries and blows to their bodies, they simply can’t offer any more. Reduced effectiveness and injuries follow. The will to play at the highest level is knocked from their bones, as happened with Barry Sanders and Robert Smith, another former Vikings running back.
For Peterson, he seemed to hit his limit earlier than other running backs, but he couldn’t be pushed any further. His 2010 campaign ended before it started with an ACL tear during the last preseason game, his first after arthroscopic knee surgery in the 2009 offseason.
Only recently has Minnesota discovered the law broken on draft day: Title 15, United States Code, Section 1984 (odometer fraud). Peterson and the Oklahoma Sooners ran up untold miles and carries on his fragile body, hiding the abuse and spinning back the odometer just in time to raise the hype on Peterson in the 2007 NFL Draft. The Vikings didn’t make the steal; they were fooled into giving this young lemon a slotted contract with a seven-figure bonus.
Unfortunately for the Vikings and their fans, the statue of limitations ran out long ago on this crime. Instead of trying one more time to get this young man’s body running again, the Vikings released Peterson today. Billionaire visitors to the used running backs lot this spring should beware and bring their own body mechanics while shopping this time.
Now read Matt Sussman’s “Adrian Peterson The Star.”