NFL Draft Q&A: Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson

Several scouts noted that Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson was the one back who could have gone straight to the NFL from high school. He met privately with four teams, including the Vikings, in the top ten that believe he is more than hype. Find out how he handled things after an impressive freshman season, what he had to prove to scouts, and much more in this exclusive interview.

In April, Peterson had personal visits with the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Washington Redskins.

Talk about your decision to leave school early.

Adrian Peterson: It was a long process. Going to the NFL was one of my ultimate goals. It has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. I sit back and think – when I was younger I used to sit back and watch guys like Emmitt Smith and Eddie George and watched them on film. I never really watched college football because the NFL is what you see on TV all the time. Being predicted to be a top-five, top-10 pick it was kind of hard for me to turn it down. I had to make the best decision for me financially and I am going forward with it.

A 4.35 running back is almost unheard of – how does that affect your vision as you go through the hole and do you ever feel like your body can't catch up to your feet when you make a cut?

Adrian Peterson: Sometimes. When I am practicing doing the "L Drill" I noticed that when I start I really don't want to be going full speed all the time – I go take off at 100 miles per hour and can slip on the turn. It is kind of hard, but throughout the years I have learned how to use it to my advantage and make those cuts.

Did you feel you have to show scouts that you are completely healthy?

Adrian Peterson: Not really. I had the collarbone injury and I really don't feel it affects anything. It is not like a knee injury.

One thing you weren't asked to do is catch the ball a lot at Oklahoma. Is that a concern?

Adrian Peterson: We had great athletes. They got the ball to me a few times, but we had some great wideouts there. They didn't have to get me the ball a lot in the passing game because we had other weapons. If I am leading the team in receiving, then we are not doing our job. I always told the coach to put me out wide against a linebacker and let me make a play – where in the open field I could break a tackle and go to the house. My junior year they opened it up a little more.

Did you feel like you had to live up to the hype after a terrific start to your college career and how did you handle the pressure?

Adrian Peterson: Living up to the hype. I wouldn't say there was any pressure. People looked at me crazy when I came in my freshman year and said one of my goals was to get 2,000 yards and hopefully win the Heisman Trophy. But half of that came true. I just set my goals without pressure. I go out there and have fun and show my stuff and I know my abilities.

How have you grown as a player since your freshman year?

Adrian Peterson: It was very humbling to get battle-tested. I have matured over the last few years and became a better football player. I understand the game and that knowledge makes the game easier. I see my freshman year and I was ‘wow' – going full out and realized I can take my time and make the game slow again. The hole might take a while for you to hit it. You might bust a 30-yard run or 15-yard run but wait for the crease. Learning, maturing as a player, and getting better.

You have always been considered a leader – how will things change as you enter the NFL as a rookie?

Adrian Peterson: I don't know. It will be a new experience. I am the kind of guy that believes anyone can get along with me. I am humble, I like to encourage people – especially other running backs, and I am going to go into there with the same attitude, the same thing that got me to where I am. With the opportunity and chance I have now…

Do you look forward to going toe-to-toe with the likes of Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis in the NFL?

Adrian Peterson: I look forward to that. It is fun to watch someone go out there and dominate the game. The NFL is the best of the best. I look forward to the competition and having a chance to go against those guys.

One thing that scouts have noted is your blocking needs work – how do you convince an NFL team that it is not an issue?

Adrian Peterson: My plan is to go out there and block – get it done. If they think I need to get better, that is what I am going to do. It really wasn't a problem for me at OU. I don't think I gave up any sacks – maybe one or two. It is something I have to get done. Knowing how to take on defenders and learning is something I plan on doing.

What current NFL player or players do you compare favorably too?

Adrian Peterson: A lot of people compare me to Eric Dickerson with how I run the ball. I would say a little of Larry Johnson mixed with LT (LaDainian Tomlinson). Johnson is a power back and I like how he gets the ball with so much explosion and knocks guys back. He has decent speed but is not a running back who will necessarily break away. LT has great speed and makes great cuts. I feel like he has great vision and great balance. Those are some of the attributes I feel I also have too.

What is an NFL team getting when they select Adrian Peterson?

Adrian Peterson: They are getting a guy who is going to go out there and work hard in practice, two-a-days, Sunday nights and Monday nights. They are going to get a player that is going to play his heart out every game. A player that loves the game – truly enjoys playing the game and will do whatever it takes to get on the field and help my team win and accomplish the goals we set in front of us. That is just the type of person and player I am – do whatever to improve myself and the team.


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