Curran: Smoke, mirrors, the Patriots and Adrian Peterson

Curran: Smoke, mirrors, the Patriots and Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is a future Hall-of-Fame running back who is a season removed from leading the NFL in carries, yards and touchdowns.

You can make the case for a number of backs being more complete than AP (Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Sean McCoy, Jordan Howard), but even at 32 he’s still top five in terms of running with a football after its been handed to him.


So, on the surface, it’s easy to understand why the Patriots would host Peterson for a visit Monday. He’s good at carrying footballs past people that want to knock him down.

But that’s not the only characteristic Peterson brings. Part of AP’s personal “mosaic” to borrow a Bill Belichick term, are myriad reasons that seem to disqualify him from playing here.

First? The child abuse and delight he appeared to take in doling it out (recounted here as a refresher). 

The beating allegedly resulted in numerous injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. Peterson then texted the boy’s mother, saying that one wound in particular would make her “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”

Peterson also allegedly said via text message to the child’s mother that he “felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting I (sic) thigh” and also acknowledged the injury to the child’s scrotum in a text message, saying, “Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!”

In further text messages, Peterson allegedly said, “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”

There’s more, including photos, but my point here is there should be no mistaking what Peterson did as a parent’s right to use corporal punishment in disciplining his children. It was criminal. It was on a defenseless person. It wasn’t a heat-of-the-moment, one-time thing.

Outcry surrounding Michael Vick’s aberrant behavior a decade ago dwarfed the reaction Peterson’s acts elicited. To me, what Peterson did was worse. Yet Peterson never went to the lengths Vick or disgraced former Ravens running back Ray Rice did in owning up to and advocating against the repulsive behavior they engaged in. He said he was sorry. Insisted that he loved his six kids. Said he wouldn’t whoop them anymore.

Jonathan Kraft eloquently explained in 2014 why he couldn’t reconcile anything about what Peterson did. 

"I just don’t get it, so it is hard to comment on. Other than the fact the way I was brought up and the way I brought my children is you don’t lay your hands on them," he said. "From where I sit it is completely unacceptable and as abhorrent as what we have been talking about [with Ray Rice]. It was interesting hearing some people raise a defense about it being cultural and I can’t comment on that.

“Everything I have heard about this makes you just physically uncomfortable as the other stuff we have talked about. And I think it is a real issue and in this case I think Adrian Peterson in his comments basically did say it is a thing he grew up with and is culturally what the norm is. I can’t comment on it because it is just so alien to me."

Meanwhile, Robert Kraft last week said draft prospect Joe Mixon was off the board for the Patriots because of his violent assault on a woman while at Oklahoma.

“While I believe in second chances and giving players an opportunity for redemption, I also believe that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right,” Kraft said at the NFL’s Annual Meetings in Phoenix.

Peterson could be viewed as a redemption story, I suppose. But there are other factors aside from bloodying his young son’s scrotum by whipping him with a stick that argue against Peterson being a great Patriots fit.

He fumbles (seven of ‘em in 2015). He’s a liability as a pass protector.

The Patriots have a stable of running backs fitting specific roles already - James White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead – that would make a one-dimensional workhorse back like Peterson a luxury item along the lines of someone like me buying a $1,500 tuxedo. His price tag will undoubtedly be higher than guys like Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Malcolm Butler, sowing the seeds of “Are you kidding me?!” conversations. He’s not accustomed to being a bit player.

So, why’d the Patriots have him in?

My theory? They’re doing a solid for Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra. Once one of the league’s most powerful reps when he was at CAA, Dogra was just reinstated in February by the NFLPA. The Patriots always had good relationships with Dogra. Now, as he’s trying to regain his foothold, his most recognizable client – Peterson – can’t get a sniff around the league. There’s no better way to make other organizations – owners especially – perk up than to get the Patriots imprimatur on Peterson even if it’s just a visit.

As Mike Florio points out, the Patriots could have done a low-key tire-kicking with Peterson.

Instead, The Oracle – Adam Schefter - had it Sunday night. Florio thinks it’s to put the heat on LeGarrette Blount and says a Peterson signing is unlikely. I think it’s a mere back-scratching for Dogra that the team hopes Dogra may remember somewhere down the line when doing a deal.

What we do agree on is that Adrian Peterson won’t be a Patriot.


Protoypical Patriots: What they want on the O-line - Smart, tough, athletic

Protoypical Patriots: What they want on the O-line - Smart, tough, athletic

Before the Super Bowl, Dante Scarnecchia spoke to a small group of reporters and laid out exactly what the Patriots look for in their offensive linemen.

"We covet three things when we look for offensive linemen," Scarnecchia said. "They have to be smart, they have to be tough, and they have to be athletic enough."

PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS - Previously in the series:

While there's certainly more to it than that, those are the basics. Check those off the list, and you'll have a chance. Someone like Cole Croston -- an undrafted rookie out of Iowa -- was able to spend the entirety of the 2017 season on the active roster with the Patriots because he met New England's criteria. 

The Patriots have a clear need for depth at offensive tackle after Nate Solder signed with the Giants, but are there players who can come in to be an immediate stopgap on the edge? If so, who are they? And if not, which developmental prospects could be fits?

Here are some names to keep in mind on draft weekend. These "prototypes" have what the Patriots typically look for in terms of size and athleticism up front:


I've been told by evaluators that when it comes to this class of tackles, McGlinchey might be the only one who is truly ready for regular work in the NFL. That doesn't mean others can't develop into starters -- and do so quickly. But it sounds like McGlinchey is already there, particularly in the running game. He has the requisite size that the Patriots look for. Though he's not one of the top athletes in the class (his 28.5-inch vertical is a little under what the Patriots often like), he seems athletic enough (his broad jump, for instance, was 105 inches, which meets New England's criteria). That he comes from a pro-style blocking scheme could also make him a quick fit. Scarnecchia attended McGlinchey's pro day.  


Length. Athleticism. Experience in a varied offense. Miller seems to have just about everything the Patriots look for. There seem to be some technique issues that Scarnecchia will have to work with to get Miller ready to go, but he's physically impressive. His 40 time (4.95 seconds) is more than quick enough. Same goes for his 31.5-inch vertical and his 121-inch broad jump. The jumps are significant because they show explosiveness, which for linemen -- who have to operate with force in tight spaces and explode out of their stances in pass protection -- is important. Miller told me at the combine he was scheduled to meet with New England. 


Williams has been deemed a guard by some because his size isn't necessarily ideal to play on the outside. And if he were drafted by the Patriots to play tackle, he'd be on the smaller side. But at 6-5 he's about the same height as Matt Light, and his arms (33 inches) are just a hair shorter than Sebastian Vollmer's (33 1/4). Athletically, he hits every standard. His 40 (almost five seconds flat) and jumps (34-inch vertical, 112-inch broad jump) were all very good. Belichick has a good relationship with Texas coach Tom Herman, and Williams reportedly paid the Patriots a visit during the pre-draft process. 

BRIAN O'NEILL, PITT, 6-7, 297 

O'Neill, like Miller, is another athletic prospect who will need some time. The former tight end is a little light compared to players the Patriots have drafted in the past. (Even Tony Garcia, whose knock against him was that he was light, weighed 302 pounds at the combine last year.) But athletically there are some eye-popping traits. He ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash and had a 7.14-second three-cone drill. His jumps were good but not out-of-this-world (28.5 vertical, 107-inch broad). 


How much does arm length matter? If the answer for the Patriots is "a heckuva lot" then Smith may not be deemed a fit. His arms measured 32 1/4 inches, which would be shortest for any tackle they've ever drafted. Otherwise? He's just about what they're looking for. Trusted player in the SEC. Tough. Good height. Good athlete. He ran a 5.22-second 40, benched 35 reps, jumped 33.5 inches and broad-jumped 113 inches. 


Crosby measured in at 6-4 and one-half inch, earning him the "6-5" listing by a hair. And his arm-length (32 1/4 inches) are short. But athletically he's solid -- 30-inch vertical, 105-inch broad jump -- and he's considered to have good toughness. Late on Day 2 could be the right time to pounce if he's available. 


Jones is short but his arm length (35 1/8 inches) might make up for what he lacks in height. Athletically he's not outstanding. His 40-yard dash time is slower than what the Patriots typically like (5.5 seconds), and his jumps were nothing to write home about (24-inch vertical, 102-inch broad jump). But the Ohio State connection, where the coaching staff has obvious connections to New England and the offense is relatively balanced, could help him get drafted in the middle rounds.