Will Adrian Peterson's rocky past hurt him in draft?
BROWNS BEAT STEVE DOERSCHUK
Yo, Adrian. Who are you? That's the $50 million-dollar "yo" staring the Browns in the face. Will Adrian Peterson be an instant NFL star, a running back so good he'll help any team that drafts him faster than any other player could?
Or is he damaged goods, a LaDainian Tomlinson talent in Lee Suggs' body?
n A two-part consensus is building among NFL scouts.
n Peterson is more likely to be a star than the three backs picked high in the 2005 draft: Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams and Cedric Benson.
n But That is if he overcomes worrisome injury issues.
The Browns will draft at No. 3 or No. 4, based on a coin flip next month with the Bucs. Indications are they are thinking hard about spending the pick on Peterson, if the Oklahoma Sooner falls to them.
Could have been No. 1
Had the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Texas native built on his 2004 season, he'd likely be the No. 1 overall pick.
As a 19-year-old true freshman, Peterson looked big, fast, quick, elusive, fearless - you name it - en route to rushing for an NCAA Division I freshman record 1,925 yards.
Previously, Herschel Walker might have been the brightest freshman in NCAA history, based on rushing for 1,616 yards and placing third in the 1980 Heisman Trophy balloting. Peterson finished second in the 2004 Heisman race behind Southern Cal's Matt Leinart. Leinart's coach, Pete Carroll, said Peterson had "the potential to be as good as anyone who's ever played."
During the next two years, ankle, shoulder and collarbone issues squelched further hyperbole. As a 2005 sophomore, he played in 11 games but tailed off to 1,108 yards. His per-carry average dropped from 5.7 to 5.1.
In 2006, Peterson may have wrestled with pressure to get back to the form of his monster freshman year. It was less instructive that he scored two second-half touchdowns in a narrow win over Alabama-Birmingham than it was that his offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson, called him out. Wilson told Peterson he was doing to o much dancing, looking for big plays and not enough slamming.
Peterson responded. In Game 6, he already had 130 rushing yards before breaking free for a 53-yard touchdown against Iowa State. Unfortunately, he broke a collarbone after landing hard in the end zone and didn't play again until the Fiesta Bowl. His 77 yards and two touchdowns were afterthoughts amid a stunning 43-42 win by Boise State.
Now, it's draft season.
Boise State has nothing to do with the Browns' first-round pick. It could be all about Peterson. One of the reasons might be that Peterson isn't all about himself.
The last thing the Browns need in their attempt to recover from a 4-12 year is another oversized ego.
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops has said Peterson is a fierce competitor who, rather than seeking superstar treatment, "kind of detests that."
The Browns think Peterson can run like a superstar. Burned by injuries so many times, they must wade carefully through the durability issue before getting too carried away with the Sooner.