When running back Adrian Peterson ripped ligaments in his left knee in December 2011, fear was prevalent that he would never be as dynamic. But the next season, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, only 9 yards shy of the NFL’s single-season rushing record, and in February 2013 was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. Eight months later, Peterson’s 2-year-old son was murdered by a man who was dating the boy’s mother. Eleven months after that, Peterson was charged with child abuse after whipping his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch and was exiled from the Minnesota Vikings remaining 15 games.
Oakland isn’t in the market for 40 times anymore, but other teams are taking their place … and with similar results.
The Bills pulled three speedsters out of the 2012 NFL Draft, CB Stephon Gilmore in the first round, WR T.J. Graham in the third round and CB Ron Brooks in the fourth. Gilmore’s career was starting to look shaky, but he had a breakthrough last season.
Kansas City found an important contributor in Knile Davis, a third-round pick in 2013. Davis’ fellow class of 2013 pick, safety Sanders Commings, has only played in one game and spent all of last season on injured reserve. Devon Wylie, a fourth-round pick in 2012, was waived a year later.
Oakland’s AFC West rivals have a thing for speed too, taking seven of the fastest players at the Combine since 2006. The big difference is where the Broncos are taking those players, shown by the average draft position. Denver’s stable of track stars also includes two undrafted free agents during that span. Those players have mostly been on the wrong side of so-so for the Broncos, but former Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby, a first-round pick last year, looks to be a keeper.
Interestingly enough, the Raiders haven’t drafted a burner since 2011. The Davis era is definitely over.
Minnesota is the only dome team among the four speed-heavy teams. The Vikings have only drafted one player among the Combine’s fastest in the first round, Percy Harvin in 2009.