NFL Draft today
By Barry Wilner
NEW YORK ó Darren McFadden could be the next Adrian Peterson, which nobody in the NFL can scoff at.
Yet McFadden also might slide down in the first round of today’s draft, just as Peterson did a year ago.
Peterson wound up being selected seventh overall by Minnesota. All the former Oklahoma All-American did was rush for 1,341 yards in 14 games, including a single-game record 296 yards in a victory over San Diego and a 224-yarder in a win against Chicago. Peterson was a runaway winner of the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award and then was the MVP in the Pro Bowl.
Peterson’s performances made a handful of the NFL teams that picked before Minnesota wonder just what they were thinking.
Now comes Arkansas All-American McFadden, who often has been compared with Peterson.
“People would make the comparisons because of we’re comparable in size,” McFadden said. “You know, the size and the body.”
Peterson is 6-foot-1, 215, and McFadden goes 6-2, 212 or so.
“I feel I’m a different runner,” McFadden added. “AD is a little more physical than me, but I feel I have the home run capability.”
So do a lot of teams, yet there are scenarios where McFadden could slip to, say, No. 7, just like Peterson did. That would give the AFC champion Patriots a shot at the gamebreaker.
Other forecasts place McFadden with either the Raiders at No. 4 or the Jets at No. 6. Some teams have thought about moving up for a shot at the Arkansas star.
Raiders coach Lane Kiffin has downplayed Oakland’s interest in McFadden. The team re-signed Justin Fargas to a $12 million, three-year contract; renegotiated Dominic Rhodes’ deal; and has Michael Bush, who missed his rookie season recovering from a broken leg.
But owner Al Davis loves big-play artists, and McFadden is the biggest in this draft.
“We’re so stockpiled at that position,” Kiffin said. “Sometimes running back’s not a need but a dynamic player. Sometimes you obviously have to look at because the guy is so good at it he becomes a need for a star at that position. Obviously we’ve watched a lot of him, done a lot of research on him. But there’s so many different directions for us to go before we get to running.”
The Jets aren’t in dire need of a running back either. They dealt for Thomas Jones last year and, although he struggled behind an inefficient line and with turmoil at quarterback, he is a workhorse back and is just 29.
That doesn’t mean New York would pass on the kind of offensive playmaker McFadden has the potential to be.
“I think he’s a fantastic player,” said Joey Clinkscales, the Jets’ director of college scouting. “He’s explosive, he’s fast and he can catch.”
McFadden’s stock could drop because of several off-field incidents, none of which have been egregious in the vein of a Pacman Jones or Chris Henry. McFadden quickly puts such questions to rest.
“The questions about character issues are something I answered a lot,” he said. “Teams, they talk with a lot of people and they understand from that that I am a good kid and there is nothing they have to worry about in my background or in my life.
“Everything I’ve gone through has helped make me a better person. Without all that, I wouldn’t be the person I am.”
This is a deep draft for running backs, with three others ó Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois, Jonathan Stewart of Oregon and Felix Jones of Arkansas ó projected to go in the first round.
Other top RBs include Ray Rice of Rutgers, Jamaal Charles of Texas, Chris Johnson of East Carolina and Mike Hart of Michigan.
Jones shared the backfield, but not the headlines, with McFadden, who thinks his buddy will make a very good NFL player.
“I do expect Felix to go in the first round and I feel like he could’ve started at any school in the country if he hadn’t come to Arkansas,” McFadden said. “He’s going to make some team real happy to have him.”