With the fourth pick in the 2012 BGN Community Mock Draft, FloridaEagle selects...
Trent Richardson: RB, Alabama
When Peyton Hillis burst out into the scene in 2010, rushing for 1177 yards and eleven touchdowns alongside catching 61 passes and two touchdowns, the Cleveland Browns thought that they have found their running that they can build around. However, a decrease in production and a lingering contract dispute was the theme of Hillis's 2011 season and he and his biceps signed with the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason.
Barring any other free agent acquisition, the Browns' starter at running back when training camp starts will most likely be Chris Ogbonnaya as Montario Hardesty is still rehabbing from a torn ACL. Let me repeat that. Chris Ogbonnaya. If you can name what college Ogbonnaya came from without looking it up, you get my props for that.
Overall, Cleveland was absolutely horrible running the ball in 2011, finishing 28th in the league in total rushing yards and 31st in YPC. The Giants were last in case if anybody was wondering (go figure). Even though the NFL has become more of a passing league with passing numbers being put up by quarterbacks that we have never seen before, having a running back that can run between the tackles effectively on situations like 3rd and short is still a luxury.
More after the jump...
Enter Trent Richardson, the 2011 All-American and Doak Walker Award winner who is by far the consensus number one running back in this year's draft. Draft analyst Mike Mayock even went as far as stating that Trent Richardson is the best running back prospect to enter the draft
"since Adrian Peterson" in 2007. Richardson possesses what many running backs do not have, a combination of speed and power. Just watch an Alabama highlight and you will see either see him bulldozing over a helpless defender or blazing by defenders en route to a touchdown.
Richardson, in lack of a better phrase, is a physical freak. His time and efforts in the weight room are well-documented and if you do not know about it, you should look it up. It is ridiculous, freakish, scary, abnormal, and any other adjective that you want to describe Trent Richardson with. In one video, Richardson describes the want in always wanting to lift more and trying to top his lifting records and the strength coach for Alabama saying that he sometimes has to tell Richardson to slow down so that he won't injure himself. This to me tells me that Richardson has the work ethic and drive that should be present in every athlete. Maturity is a problem with some athletes, but you do not have to worry about any maturity issues with Trent Richardson.
If the draft was held ten years ago, Richardson would have been considered as a unanimous top-five pick and even a number one or two pick. Over the years however, the value of the running back decreased as teams shifted towards passing with an emphasis placed on impact wide receivers. Running backs are not seen as important and are basically a dime a dozen in today's time. Add that to the fact that a running back's career is short compared to other positions and you can see why teams do not place value on the running back. That's why some draft analysts project Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon to Cleveland as he is viewed as one of the better wide receiver prospects in the draft over the past couple of years and the . Another scenario some draft pundits are saying is that it is possible for the Browns to draft Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill as Colt McCoy struggled somewhat in his first season as starter. I do not see the Browns pulling the trigger and reaching for Tannehill at four, even though I am a fan of him and do like his potential and athleticism for the quarterback position.
With all these reasons people came up with not to pick him, they actually forget how freakin' talented dude is. Although projecting how college athletes will fare in the pros is unpredictable, I am pretty confident that Richardson's skill set and talent will translate well to the NFL. Richardson is the best prospect for the Browns to choose at four and he will be a franchise running back in the mold of an Adrian Peterson or a Chris Johnson that the team desperately needs.
It's your move Cleveland.
P.S. Richardson and I are both from Pensacola, Florida and I did go to some of his high school games. Trent Richardson and Emmitt Smith both went to Escambia High School and were coached by the same coach who coincidentally was the dean of my middle school when I was in 7th grade before he started coaching again. Was not a big name like a lot of prospects until his junior year (my freshman year) when he rushed for 406 yards and 6 touchdowns in the season opener, finishing the season as one of the nation's top recruits.
Next on the clock will be Mikesta with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.