It wasn't set in stone that he would be on the draft market. Originally, Adrian McPherson was a free agent and had already begun talking to several teams, including the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns. The NFL intervened and told the quarterback that he would have to go through the draft process instead.
"I played in Arena last year and had a pretty good season," McPherson said. "A couple of teams contacted me, wanted to bring me in…four years removed from high school. Basically, the NFL said they never had a situation like that before and kind of wanted to sit down and decide what was the best way to go about my situation, since it was so different.
"And they just decided that the best way to go about it is to just let me go through the whole draft process, the Combine process, and just kind of go from there."
Playing for the Indiana Firebirds, McPherson completed 59.7 percent of his passes, threw 61 touchdowns to just five interceptions and added 269 yards rushing in a league that doesn't have many quarterbacks running.
He earned AFL Rookie of the Year honors for his efforts and decided his best course of action was the 2005 NFL Draft rather than returning to the Arena League. It was a decision based on his immense talent and belief that he can make an impact early on in the NFL.
Ironically, Adrian McPherson says the competition level in the Arena League was higher than what can be seen in college. According to scouts and coaches, the Arena League teaches a quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly.
The youngest player in the league, he had to compete against savvy veterans who have participated in NFL training camps across the country and are looking for a second chance – much like himself, although his are based on different terms.
Gambling and stolen credit card charges, something he pleaded no contest to, have marred his off the field character. The quarterback takes full responsibility for his actions and knows he will have to face those questions during this process.
And McPherson isn't shy about the past and more importantly the future. He believes he is among the best quarterbacks to enter the draft and is the wildcard heading into April.
Now he is finally at the Combines and it all begins here.
"I've been working out for a while, just trying to stay in shape," McPherson said. "It's pretty much been reading about different guys all year and seeing different guys play. I've kind of been going away because I haven't played since last year, so people haven't heard much about me. So I've just been keeping myself in the best shape that I could. Basically, the Combine's going to be, like, my whole season this year. This is actually the first time that teams are going to get to see me play so I've just got to make the best of the opportunity."
Listed as being from Florida State, McPherson has to tackle questions on his dismissal from the Seminoles program and, of course, has to show what he brings to the table from a physical standpoint.
He passed the eyeball test by weighing in at 218 pounds and listed at just over 6-foot-3 and actually took part in the bench press, a workout that he did not have to compete in and put up 22 repetitions. When he was a freshman at Florida State, he weighed just 172 pounds.
He admitted he had things to work on before arriving in Indianapolis.
"Basically, when I came out (to California) they said my feet were too fast, so I had to slow everything down," said McPherson. "I was getting back in my drops too quick; when I got back there receivers hadn't really broken out of their routes yet. So I had to work on slowing down and just be repetitive with everything.
"All the techniques and everything were new to me. The more and more I did it and the more and more I worked out, the more confident I became with it. So just the technical things, repeating day in and day out and just becoming familiar with it."
How instrumental is a legend like Warren Moon to his development?
"Basically, it's just knowledge, just teaching me how to be a good quarterback, a great quarterback, on and off the field, what it takes," McPherson remarked. "I've always had a pretty strong arm and really quick feet, so they're just teaching me the technique and the fundamentals of being a quarterback. I think that work with those guys has made me a more polished quarterback."
Now it is up to McPherson to translate that onto the field and prove it to NFL scouts and coaches. He has always had the talent and charted a different course than most so this week may very well be as important as it was for Maurice Clarett.
The running back flopped. Don't expect McPherson to do the same.
NFL Draft Prospect Exclusive: Adrian McPherson
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