The Minnesota Vikings signed my pick for the 2007 NFL Rookie of the Year, #7 overall draft pick running back Adrian Peterson (6’1, 220) over the weekend. Peterson’s deal is for five-years and will pay him $40.5 million contract with $17 million in guaranteed money. The signing of Peterson ended a brief 3-day holdout and the former Oklahoma Sooners running back will now be paired with current Vikings starter Chester Taylor. “It’s about time,” running back Chester Taylor recently jokingly told reports as the Vikings wrapped up their fifth training camp practice without his new backfield mate. Taylor added “We need him out here so we can groove our offense even better with him coming back. So I’m just looking forward to him taking the field.” After a franchise low in first downs in 2006, the Vikings will try and use Taylor (1,214 yards) and Peterson similarly to recent successful NFL tandem backfields (Colts – Rhodes and Addai, Patriots – Dillon and Maroney, Bears – Benson and Jones & the Steelers – Bettis and Parker). The Vikings will need to lean on the rushing tandem to help 2-year player and first year starter quarterback Tavaris Jackson, who is still a developmental project.
I know many may think that it is too early to give an award to a player, but I believe Peterson has the chance to make an immediate impact more than any other 2007 offensive draftee. He will get the opportunity to be a featured starter and has the vision, speed, and power to hit the ground running. After leaving as a junior, he maybe an injury risk (Missed seven games this season with a broken collarbone), but the Vikings have tested his collarbone and they believe he will hold up. Peterson had an amazing 1,012 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns in about 6 games in 2006. I liked how he came back in the Fiesta Bowl even though didn’t have to running for 77 yards and two touchdowns, including a 25-yarder on the first play of overtime, in Oklahoma’s 43-42 overtime loss to Boise State. For his college career, Peterson ran for 4,045 yards in three seasons, ranking behind only 1978 Heisman winner Billy Sims (4,118) and Joe Washington (4,071) on Oklahoma’s career rushing list. His 1,925 yards in 2004 were a school rushing record and the most by a freshman in NCAA history.
The signing leaves draft picks: Oakland QB Jamarcus Russell, Detroit WR Calvin Johnson, Arizona OT Levi Brown, Washington FS Laron Landry, Jets CB Darrelle Revis, Carolina LB Jon Beason, Cleveland QB Brady Quinn and Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe unsigned as of July 30th.