Adrian Peterson: A Wanted Man

Adrian Peterson knows he has been rumored to be going to several NFL teams at the top of the draft, and he's hoping to improve his stock further with lofty goals and reassurances that his injury history shouldn't hinder him at the next level.

Running back Adrian Peterson has been hearing the rumors.

He's going to the Detroit Lions with the second pick. "Detroit needs a running back. I know I might be a Detroit Lion," he said.

Or he could be going to the Cleveland Browns with the third pick. "Cleveland is a great town. They have some Sooners down there already, so I wouldn't mind being a Cleveland Brown," the University of Oklahoma product added.

Or, if he falls far enough in the first round or the Dallas Cowboys trade up to get him, he might even be a Cowboy in 2007. "Growing up, I was a Cowboys fan. I would love to play for the Cowboys, too," he said.

Point is, Peterson is smart enough to know that he doesn't want to rule out any NFL teams. All he knows is that he's going to one of the top teams on April 28, despite a history of injuries that have dogged his career and could have potentially dropped his draft stock.

Peterson said his high ankle sprain from his sophomore season is completely healed, as is his shoulder injury from his freshman season, but he's dealing with his more recent collarbone injury that he says will be strong as ever once it heals.

If NFL teams view the Combine as most valuable for medical reports, as NFL coaches and general managers contend, then these next five days could be more valuable for Peterson than any of the other 327 players invited to the 2007 NFL Scouting Combine.

Unlike many other of top prospects, Peterson is doing a full workout with plenty to prove and admits to setting the bar high, wanting to run a 4.2- to 4.3-second 40-yard dash.

Just as Peterson was peppered with questions about where he might end up in the NFL (he was meeting with the Browns Friday night amid rampant speculation that they are seriously interested in him), he was also questioned about the different-styled teams he could end up playing for.

The 6-foot-1 ½, 217-pound back wants to start right away and seemed to prefer an offense where he could be the featured running back, but he knows he can't control the type of offensive line he plays behind in the NFL.

"If it was a rebuilding process, certain situations, you have to go through a stage," Peterson said. "I'd go out there and treat it like any other situation. I'd practice hard every other day and give 100 percent. Just try to improve my performance and help my team get better."

Peterson is easily the highest ranked running back in the 2007 NFL Draft, despite the injury concerns. It's his production when he's been on the field that has kept his value so high.

In three seasons at Oklahoma, he has amassed 4,306 yards and 41 touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. His upright running style, which he admits he's working to alter in hopes of improving his durability, has drawn comparisons between him and Eric Dickerson.

"Being compared to Eric Dickerson, that's crazy," said Peterson, who later said he does see the similarities in style. "He's one of the greatest running backs. It's an honor to be compared to him. A lot of guys say, ‘You run in that upright position and have a little breakaway speed.' But it's an honor."

Peterson's production has earned him some of those accolades and comparisons, and it might even help NFL scouts forgive some of his injury history.

In fact, the notion was floated to Peterson that he might be the top-ranked player overall if his health hadn't failed him so many times.

"There are a lot of people who come in (to the Combine) ranked, but once they come out of their workout, things might change. We'll just have to wait and see," he said. "… Things happen for a reason. What happened in the past is in the past. I'm looking forward to the NFL and my dreams. I'm taking it one shot at a time."

Scout NFL Network Top Stories