When you’re in the business of generating content to keep viewers/readers interested, there’s no better fail-safe option than lists. Top 10 plays of the year, top 5 free agents, top 10 draft busts, etc. These lists always generate great dialogue and debate and the best recent example is the NFL Network’s ranking of the Top 100 Players from 2010.
The series, which was very well done by NFL Network, concluded this week with the top 10 players and one of Minnesota’s very own was included. RB Adrian Peterson was ranked as the 3rd-best current NFL player in a poll of his peers according to NFL Network’s series.
I must admit that I was quite pleased to learn of Peterson’s ranking in this series. I typically don’t get too invested in these types of projects, but I do feel adamant about Peterson’s place among current NFL players. Although he plays perhaps the most fungible position in football, I think Peterson has tremendous value in today’s game because he is SO much better than the average player at his position. Peterson is a special, once-in-a-generation player in my view and I believe his ranking in NFL Network’s series is appropriate.
In a QB-dominant league, only Tom Brady (#1) and Peyton Manning (#2) were ranked ahead of Peterson. Again, RB can be a fungible position in the NFL, so I’ll hear arguments that Peterson is ranked too high. But I won’t agree with those arguments. Peterson is a true game-changer and is on pace to be a Hall of Famer as well. I don’t need to list his credentials or past results here because you are surely aware of them; he’s virtually re-written the Vikings rushing record book.
We’ve posted on the front page of vikings.com the 7-minute video segment that introduces Peterson as the #3 player in the Top 100 Players of 2010 series, but I wanted to point out just a few things from the clip right here on the vikings.com Blog. I recommend watching the video when you’re done reading this entry.
The segment begins by showing a few of Peterson’s highlight-caliber runs, with Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier speaking about his superstar RB. Frazier describes 2 particular runs that stand out to him and then has some flattering remarks about Peterson.
“He reminds me so much of a great running back that I played with. Arguably the greatest of all-time, Walter Payton,” Frazier said. “Just the way tacklers wince when Adrian comes. And this is the National Football League we’re talking about. Guys get paid to hit you. But when it’s Adrian Peterson barreling down, I mean you know it’s going to be a vicious moment for the defender.”
One of Peterson’s fellow NFL players, Saints LB Jonathan Vilma, is also part of the segment. Vilma is a top LB in the NFL who has played against Peterson a few times in recent seasons. He also had flattering comments for #28.
“Whew, man. He’s tough,” Vilma said. “He’s not going to go out of bounds, he’s not going to give you the easy out. He wants the contact, he’ll look for the contact and at the same time he’ll look for the home run. He can do both, that’s the thing that makes him special.
“I always worry about running backs that can run away from me. He’s one of those guys where I can be tracking him the whole way and all of a sudden he puts his foot in the ground and he’s out of the gate for 60 yards. You know, that worries me.”
The segment then moves on to point out that 6 teams passed on Peterson during the 2007 NFL Draft before the Vikings pounced on him at #7.
“When we drafted him, and just watched how he moved, how he attacked the line of scrimmage, and we’re not in pads, it’s our first practices for rookies, and he approached it like it’s a game,” Frazier recalled. “And I said, ‘this guy is different.’ And it’s never stopped. He’s trying to score every time he touches the football. What should be a two-yard run, could be a 98-yard gain.”
Vilma then goes on to talk about a defensive meeting he was in just before playing the Vikings in which a Saints defensive coach showed a film clip of a touchdown run by Peterson against the Tennessee Titans.
“When we were about to play him, about two years ago, our coach put one film of him, one cut up of him,” Vilma recalled. “And he said ‘I just want you guys to watch this so you understand who you’re playing.’ It was (the film clip) against the Tennessee Titans, (the Vikings offense) was on the far hash and he (Peterson) was cutting it back to the field. He must have been top speed in his third or fourth step and he wanted us to watch the safety, who couldn’t catch him who had the angle on him; (Peterson) burned the angle on him and scored the touchdown.”
Later the video shows a clip of QB Brett Favre telling Peterson that he’s never played with a player like Peterson. It’s a notable moment because Favre, one of the best QBs of all-time, is describing to Peterson how good he is, how good he could be and how he’s glad to finally play with him after playing against him for 2 seasons.
The clip also gets into the fumbling issues Peterson experienced early in his career, pointing out that Peterson fumbled 20 times in his first 3 seasons. But the clip also points out that he fumbled just once in 2010.
Ultimately, though, the entire segment can be summed up in one comment that Frazier made toward the end.
“He, in my mind, is the best running back in the National Football League today,” Frazier said. “Bar none.”
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 25 Comments »