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Minnesota Vikings' Best Draft Picks - Adrian Peterson

The Vikings' selection of Adrian Peterson with the seventh overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft was deemed by many to be a "no-brainer," much like the previously discussed selection of Randy Moss. This has always led me to wonder one thing. . .if the picks of Moss and Peterson were such "no-brainers," why did 20 teams pass on Moss in '98, and why did six teams pass on Peterson in 2007? Doesn't seem like such a "no-brainer" to me.

As a review, here are the players that went ahead of Adrian Peterson in the 2007 Draft.

Oakland Raiders - JaMarcus Russell, quarterback, LSU
Detroit Lions - Calvin Johnson, wide receiver, Georgia Tech
Cleveland Browns - Joe Thomas, offensive tackle, Wisconsin
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Gaines Adams, defensive end, Clemson
Arizona Cardinals - Levi Brown, offensive tackle, Penn State
Washington Redskins - LaRon Landry, safety, LSU

I think I can safely say that at least four of those teams. . .Oakland, Tampa Bay, Arizona, and Washington. . .would gladly take Adrian Peterson over the player they selected if we could jump in the Delorean and do it over again, for various reasons. You might even get Detroit to make that declaration as well.

But, as we said with Randy Moss. . .sometimes the obvious selection really is the best one.

The Vikings didn't necessarily need a running back going into the 2007 season. After all, their current starter, Chester Taylor, was the only part of Minnesota's 2006 offense that regularly functioned on an above-average level, as Taylor ran for just over 1,200 yards after signing as a free agent during the 2006 off-season. But while the Vikings didn't necessarily need a running back, what they did need was a playmaker, and nobody fit that bill at the seventh overall pick in 2007 better than Peterson did. In three years at the University of Oklahoma, he rushed for just over 4,000 yards, including 1,925 yards as a freshman, setting the NCAA mark for rushing yards by a freshman back.  In that freshman season, he was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy behind USC's Matt Leinart, the highest placement for a freshman in the history of the award.

Over Peterson's next two seasons, he battled a myriad of injuries, and rushed for "only" 2,132 yards in those two seasons combined. His last carry as a college player was the Sooners' final offensive play of the 2006 season, a 25-yard touchdown run that gave the Sooners a lead in overtime in the legendary Fiesta Bowl between the Sooners and the Boise State Broncos. . .a game that the Sooners would lose on the famous "Statue of Liberty" play by Boise State on the drive after Peterson's run. Leading up to the draft, many teams were concerned with Peterson's "injury problems," and allowed him to fall right into Minnesota's lap at number seven.

Peterson began to pay immediate dividends for the Vikings, beginning with his first game. Even though he didn't start in that one, he certainly gave the home crowd something to remember in their victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Later that season, Peterson would have two more spectacular games. . .he rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns and had a key kick return in the Vikings' exciting 34-31 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in his fifth NFL game.Since people still had questions about how good he was at that point, he went out a few weeks later and set the single-game NFL rushing record in a blowout victory over the San Diego Chargers at the Metrodome. That game was made more amazing by the fact that Peterson, at halftime of that game, had 43 yards. The 253 yards he rushed for in the second half alone would have been the eighth-best single-game performance in the history of the NFL. . .and if it hadn't been for an illegal horse collar tackle during the fourth quarter, Peterson's rushing total could have been somewhere in the 330 to 340 yard range.

Through his first four seasons. . .during which he's played in 61 out of a possible 64 regular-season games. . .Peterson has already amassed 5,782 rushing yards, which puts him third place in team history behind Robert Smith and Chuck Foreman (both of whom he'll likely pass in 2011. . .he needs only 105 yards to pass Foreman, and 1,036 yards to pass Smith). He is already tied with Foreman and Bill Brown for the all-time franchise record for rushing touchdowns with 52.

Yes, Adrian Peterson may have been an "obvious" pick at the seventh spot in the 2007 NFL Draft, and I'm quite happy that the Vikings were smart enough to take him at that spot. He's on his way to being the best running back in the history of a franchise with a pretty solid history at the running back position, which makes him a "no-brainer" selection as one of the greatest draft picks in Minnesota Vikings history.

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