Scout's Notebook: RB Adrian Peterson

Running back Adrian Peterson has made an immediate impact with the Vikings as a rookie. He has already established himself as the No. 1 playmaker on offense. Here's a complete, in-depth scouting report…

#28, Adrian Peterson, RB
(6014, 217, 4.37-4.44) Oklahoma

Notes:  Born 3/21/85.  Parents are Bonita Jackson and Nelson Peterson.  His father was a college basketball player at Idaho State and his mother was a track and field sprinter at the University of Houston.  His uncle, Ivory Lee Brown, played one season in the NFL for the Phoenix Cardinals in 1992.  Peterson has dealt with family crisis throughout his life.  He was thirteen years old when his father was sentenced to 10 years in prison for money laundering in connection with illegal drugs.  Nelson Peterson served nearly eight years of his prison sentence and was released in October 2006.  Adrian Peterson's brother, Brian Peterson, was killed at the age of nine by a drunk driver while riding a bicycle.  His stepbrother, Chris Paris, was shot and killed in Houston, Texas, one day before Adrian's participation in the 2007 NFL Scouting Combine.  Attended Palestine (Tex.) High School, playing football for head coach Jerry Harrell.  As a junior (2002), he rushed for 2,051 yards on 246 carries (8.3 avg.) with 22 touchdowns.  Peterson was a consensus National Player of the Year as a senior (2003) as he rushed for 2,960 yards on 252 attempts (11.7 avg.) with 32 touchdowns.  He also competed in track and field and basketball.  He has one daughter, Adeja.  He currently lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with his brother, Derrick Peterson.

College:  Peterson announced that he would enroll at Oklahoma after rushing for two touchdowns in the 2003 U.S. Army High School All-American Game, leading the West squad with 95 yards on only 9 carries.  He made an immediate impact with the Sooners in 2004, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting – the best finish ever by a freshman – and third in the voting for the Maxwell Award (player of the year).  As a freshman (2004), he set, an NCAA freshman record with 339 rushing attempts for 1,925 yards (5.7 avg.) and 15 touchdowns, with 71% of his yardage (1,365 yards) coming after initial contact.  He also caught 5 passes for 12 yards, but did fumble 7 times.  Peterson broke the OU season rushing record set in 1978 by Billy Sims (1,896) and the NCAA freshman record set in 1996 by Wisconsin's Ron Dayne (1,863).  He also set the NCAA frosh marks for consecutive 100-yard rushing games (9) and total 100-yard rushing games (11).  His 11, 100-yard games ranked second at OU (Quentin Griffin had 12 in 2002) and he also tied the NCAA freshman record for reaching 1,000 yards in the fewest games (7) with Emmitt Smith (Florida, 1987) and Marshall Faulk (San Diego State, 1991).

An ankle injury limited Peterson's playing time in 2005.  He still rushed for 1,108 yards and 14 touchdowns on 220 carries (5.1 avg) and averaged 104.9 all-purpose yards per game.  He rushed for over 100 yards in 5 games, including 220 yards against Tulsa and a season-high 237 yards against Oklahoma State.

As a junior (2006), Peterson started strong, averaging 187.1 all-purpose yards per game until a collarbone injury sidelined him for the final seven regular-season games.  He finished with 1,012 yards with 12 touchdowns on 188 attempts (5.4 avg.), while catching 10 for 136 yards and another touchdown.  He also averaged 23.1 on seven kickoff returns.  He gained more than 100 yards in each of his first six games, including a season-high 211 vs. Oregon.  He turned the ball over twice on three fumbles.

In 31 games at Oklahoma, Peterson started 22 times.  He ranks second in school annals with 747 carries and finished third in OU history with 4,045 yards on the ground (5.4 avg).  He scored 41 times rushing and added 24 receptions for 198 yards (8.3 avg) and a score.  He gained 162 yards on seven kickoff returns (23.1 avg) and finished third on the school career-record list with 4,401 all-purpose yards (141.96 ypg).  His 252 points scored rank fifth among non-kickers and ninth overall in Oklahoma history.  He finished second in OU annals with 22 100-yard and six 200-yard rushing performances, but also turned the ball over six times on 17 fumbles.

Despite the loss of his half-brother just days prior, Peterson performed extremely well at the scouting combine prior to the 2007 NFL Draft.  He measured 6014, 217 pounds.  He recorded a 1.54 10-yard dash, 2.60 20-yard dash, 4.40 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical jump, 10’7” broad jump, 4.41 20-yard shuttle, 11.78 60-yard shuttle and 7.10 3-cone drill time.

Pro:  Peterson was the Vikings first-round pick (No. 7 overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft.  He began the season splitting time with veteran Chester Taylor as the team’s featured running back.

Positives:  Tremendous competitor with an ideal blend of size, speed, strength and vision.  He runs extremely hard and aggressively and is a threat to go the distance anytime he touches the ball.  He can break tackles, run over tacklers or make tacklers miss; rarely tackled by just one man.  He can stop and start on a dime, juke or spin to leave would-be defenders in their tracks.  Naturally instinctive, he can weave his way through the open field and has tremendous finishing speed.  He shows tremendous balance and determination.  He literally imposes his will on defenses and gains a lot of yardage after initial contact.  He can explode through a seam up the middle and has the speed to turn the corner.  Once in the open-field, he is extremely dangerous due to his exceptional speed and acceleration.  He consistently makes big plays.  He shows reliable hands as a pass receiver.  As a blocker, he has the size and strength to stand up defenders on the blitz and is quickly improving in this area of his game.

Negatives:  He tends to run too upright at times and will take unnecessary hits.  Needs to protect the ball better in traffic as he will carry the ball out away from his body at times and often fights for extra yardage, leaving him vulnerable to being stripped.  He can be taken down low at times with ankle and shoestring tackles.  Is still refining his overall pass-receiving skills and blocking technique.  He struggles with injuries in college, so durability is a question mark.

Summary:  Peterson is a true franchise running back that you can hitch your wagon to and build the rest of your offense around.

What they said:

“He's a 220-pound man who plays the game very fast.  He can run between the tackles or to the outside.  He can catch the ball short or down the field.  He has the 'wow' factor, and that's something our offense needs.  We're obviously elated to have this guy.  He is an explosive football player that can take it to the house every time from any point on the football field.  He has that kind of speed and ability.  He’s a bright-eyed kid and an explosive kid.  We knew we needed explosive players on the offensive side of the football.  And we got one of the best today.  The big thing is that he’s got a great, bright-eyed willingness to work.  He’s not a ‘Hey, I’ve got all the answers’ guy.  He is a million-miles-an-hour guy.  (Running backs coach) Eric Bienemy is going to do a great job of teaching him how to be a pro.” – Vikings head coach Brad Childress following the draft

“The thing about it, the unique aspect about the kid, is not just the talent but the person that you get, you're getting a guy with great character and a kid that doesn't take anything for granted.  When you've got that combined with a player who has the unique physical abilities that he has, I think the sky can be the limit for him.  He mentally just has the mindset whereas he always wants to get better.  He's always been one of the better players regardless of what level he's played at, whether it's high school or college, but the way he carries himself, you would never know that.  Because like I say, he's a humble, hardworking kid who doesn't take anything for granted and takes a lot of pride in everything that he does.” Vikings running backs coach Eric Bienemy

“This was clearly a value pick, and an outstanding one at that.  If Peterson stays healthy as a rookie, I expect he will not only make more of an impact than any other rookie in the league, he could carry the Vikings to the playoffs and even challenge to knock the Bears off their perch.  Peterson is fiercely competitive and will impose his will on anyone who tries to get in his way.  He is big, strong, fast, physical and as talented as any runner I’ve ever seen.  The Bears, Packers and Lions cannot like this pick.  Having to stop Peterson twice a year will prove to be a tremendous challenge.  Barring injury — and it no doubt is a concern given how violent Peterson runs — he will someday be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.  From a talent perspective, he is as much of a can't-miss prospect as there is in this draft.” – Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly

“We're very happy and proud for Adrian and his family.  He is such a competitive player and I appreciate so much what he brought to our program.  He has great pride in the way he plays and he's extremely tough.  Those qualities rub off on the people around him.  He has the kind of competitive spirit that elevates those around him.  It means an awful lot to him that the entire team does well and I think that is probably his most under-appreciated quality.  As much attention as he garnered here, he was always more concerned with being respected in the locker room.  Being a good teammate matters a lot to him.  He genuinely cares about the people around him.” – Bob Stoops, Oklahoma head coach

“My God, is Adrian Peterson a great-looking running back.” – Peter King,

“Peterson's explosiveness is a great fit for Brad Childress’ offense.  Never mind the health concerns.  His collarbone looks to be fine, according to everything I have heard from team officials.  Peterson's ability to run well inside and outside, as well as his pass-catching skills, will allow him to make an immediate impact on the Vikings.” – Vic Carucci,

“Adrian Peterson is a producer.  He ran for over 1,900 yards as a freshman at Oklahoma.  He was the highest finisher ever as a freshman for the Heisman.  There were two questions about Adrian Peterson:  Could he catch the ball?  That concern was eliminated at Oklahoma's Pro Day.  The second concern was his collarbone and all teams have cleared him.  Some doctors think they need to put a plate in there, but even if they do, he'll still be ready for training camp.  He will remind people of Eric Dickerson.” – Gil Brandt

“There will be room for both him and Chester Taylor.  In addition, his receiving skills are underrated.” – Pat Kirwan, Senior Analyst

“I call him ‘the cashier.’  He’s going to make every team pay that passed on him.  He runs like Walter Payton.  I think he’s as unique and special a runner as we have seen.” – Merril Hoge, ESPN

“While the Vikings have more pressing needs at several other positions, including defensive end and running back, Peterson was too good to pass up on.  Peterson is a tough runner who can pick up yards between the tackles and break tackles when he gets into the open field.  He has the burst to turn the corner, make the first defender miss and turn on the jets when he gets a seam.” –’s John Clayton

“Even though some draft analysts had him going as high as No. 3 to Cleveland, Peterson's "tumble'' to the No. 7 Vikings isn't a bad thing from this perspective.  With Minnesota, which has 1,200-yard rusher Chester Taylor, Peterson won't have to be a workhorse back from day one, and thus will have the time he needs to get his much-discussed collarbone completely healthy. That could end up being the break – as in some much needed time off – that his NFL career needed in its nascent stages.” – Don Banks,

“Peterson was considered a top three pick with (JaMarcus) Russell and (Calvin) Johnson.  He has been compared to Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson because of his upright running style, although some don't believe he's as tough as Dickerson was.  Yes, he's a violent runner, but Dickerson carried the ball a lot in his first three seasons and didn't miss a game while setting NFL records for yards.  Can Peterson really match that?  But if he can stay healthy, Peterson should be very productive in the NFL because teams won't be able to key on him like they did in college.  Remember, the Sooners had no offense other than Peterson.” – John Czarnecki,

“Peterson will join Chester Taylor in one of the more dynamic 1-2 rushing attacks in the league.  News of a re-broken collarbone in the Fiesta Bowl must not have fazed Brad Childress and Co.  Good.  The thought of Peterson running on that Metrodome carpet is horrifying.” – Peter Schrage,

“You can expect Brad Childress will find a smart way to make use of Chester Taylor's hard running and Peterson's big-play ability, much like Sean Payton did with Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.  Look for Minnesota to have one of the league's most dynamic West Coast-style offenses in '07, as Peterson, like Bush, can be an immediate big contributor in the short passing game as well.” – Vinnie Iyer analysis

“The most explosive offensive player in the draft comes to a team desperate for playmakers.  Peterson will team with running back Chester Taylor to give the Vikings a big-time 1-2 punch.  Coach Brad Childress said he will create formations that will allow both Taylor and Peterson to play at the same time.” - Kevin Seifert, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“I definitely have the inspiration and drive I need.  I think about all the hard work I’ve put in since I was seven years old to get to this point.  I’ve been through battles and difficult times; so now at this point, when things get tough, getting through it is nothing.” – Peterson on what drives him

“Growing up watching Emmitt Smith and Eddie George, I always wanted to be in the National Football League.  That was always my ultimate dream.  In high school, I went through the process of getting my name out there so I could play in college.  Now I’m ready to take that third step.” – Peterson on his dream of playing in the NFL

“I’m quite comfortable in the spotlight and being a role model.  Like I said, when I was little, I had guys I looked up to and tried to be like.  I know how important it is, because kids do what they see on television.  Now that I’m in the position where kids out there want to be like me, it feels good to do right and show them how hard work makes an opportunity like this possible.” – Peterson on being a role model

Other Links:
Fan website
Peterson vs. Jets (YouTube)
Peterson drafted by Vikings (YouTube)
Pre-Draft Highlights (
Pre-Draft Highlights (
Adrian Peterson for Heisman (YouTube)

Adrian Peterson College Highlights (YouTube)
Adrian Peterson Tribute (YouTube)

Adrian Peterson High School & College (YouTube)

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