College Eye for the NFL Guy: Adrian Peterson

NFL scouts think they know him, but they're wrong ...

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Adrian Peterson: junior tailback, Oklahoma

WHAT NFL SCOUTS ARE SAYING

Pro Football Weekly: Will wear down defenses. Will pick up most of his yardage after contact. Can sidestep tacklers but would much rather run over them than around them. Has the pure straight-line speed to pull away from the pack and go the distance. Durability is his biggest concern. May have too much tread on his tires. Will run upright and leave his body vulnerable to some hits. Brings the best size-speed combination the league has seen since Bo Jackson, both drafted first overall.

Street and Smith's: Effective between the tackles. Smooth change of directions. Shows the ability to take it the distance from anywhere on the field. Runs north-south. Consistently makes the first defender miss. Finishes each run. Protects the ball. Capable receiver out of the backfield. Competitive. Must keep pad level down. Has struggled with some injuries.

PROBABLY GETTING DRAFTED ...

Very early. For whatever reason he's been lost in the media-hype over Russell/Quinn, Calvin Johnson and to some extent Joe Thomas. Whatever, injury issues aside this guy is probably the best player in the draft if they were to do this all over again in a few years. There's a Sam Bowie or two in front of him, because he should probably be the number one pick if the NFL draft were a more sane operation.

GUY WHO WATCHED HIM FOR THREE YEARS IS SAYING

Like almost every big back before him, Peterson has taken on some wear-and-tear injuries. He's not as fast as the 18-year-old that nearly won the Heisman but he's added to his game with a more nuanced running style and upgraded his receiving ability from nonexistent to merely below average.

The scouts have it wrong in that he's not as much of a bulldozer as they claim. Yeah, once in a while he takes on some undersized linebacker or safety and plows through them but his real gift has always been an unnatural combination of size and downtown speed to rapidly enter the second and third levels of the defense.

I see Peterson having a 5-8 year NFL career, with a year or two of mild injury interruption but production on the level of say, Ricky Williams before he morphed into a pothead version of Robert Smith. In the NFL the ground game is key for offenses and Peterson is the rare player who should deliver 80-120 yards a game instantly and carry that through a 16-game season for five or more years in a row. His best football is ahead of him, as he is competitive and already a grown man ready for the challenges of the NFL.

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