As a long-standing rule, I take the offseason or minicamp words of NFL coaches and players with a grain of salt.
For example, I don't care if a rookie quarterback wows the coaching staff with his accuracy during practice sessions that involve team-issued shorts and don't involve shoulder pads or live defenders rushing the passer. I also don't care about wide receivers or tight ends getting praised for their route-running capabilities in 7-on-7 drills.
As someone who used to work for an NFL franchise and observed practice after practice after practice during the spring, if you can't succeed in drills that don't entail defenders or live-game pressure, when can you bring it for all to see?
However, I can be swayed by the actions of players during personal workouts. I can be influenced by certain superstars killing themselves in sand pits (lateral-movement drills) or attacking 55-degree hills against world-class sprinters like Percy Harvin.
I'm talking about Adrian Peterson.
Back in March, you may recall the piece in which I outlined valid reasons for not taking Peterson (1,109 total yards, 13 TDs in 12 games last year) in the first five rounds of 12-team, standard- scoring drafts. The primary concern focused on Peterson's gruesome knee injury against the Redskins on Christmas Eve...and that he'd only have eight full months of recovery time before the Vikings' Week 1 home clash against the Jaguars (Sept. 9).
But after repeated viewings of Peterson working out before the media this week (via Vikings.com), I'm now inclined to think AP might be worth the Round 3 or 4 pick—provided he's not my team's highest-ranked back on the depth chart.
Within my time-tested rules for injured stars from March, Chiefs tailback Jamaal Charles (torn ACL in early September) and Titans receiver Kenny Britt (torn ACL in late September) will garner full draft consideration in August, assuming there are no injury setbacks throughout the spring and summer.
That's not to say I'll gladly reach for them on draft day; it simply means they won't be penalized to the extent of Peterson or Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall (torn ACL on Jan. 2).
Which spins us back to Peterson: Has he earned the right to be believed when saying he'll be ready by Week 1? Yes.
With a September return, is he a good candidate for 1,000 yards rushing? Yes.
With a productive preseason, should Peterson (6,752 career rushing yards, 67 total TDs) merit Rounds 1-4 consideration? Yes.
And if the Vikings should air a similar workout video in July and Peterson manages to beat Harvin up the hill—not unlike Rocky Balboa finally sprinting past Apollo Creed during the Rocky III beach-training session—would that clinch his standing as a top-30 overall pick?
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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