Alabama vs LSU: Why Trent Richardson Can Play Himself into Top 5 of the Draft

Johnathan CaceCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 06:  Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks to the media at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 6, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  LSU and Alabama will play in the BCS National Championship on January 9th.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

When it comes to the 2012 NFL Draft, Trent Richardson is in a class by himself. He has incredible power and vision to go with a burst of 4.5 speed that can leave defenders in the dust.

ESPN’s Todd McShay has him as the fourth best overall prospect in the draft, but who exactly is going to take him in the top five?

Indianapolis will take Andrew Luck and Minnesota or St. Louis will take Matt Kalil, which leaves St. Louis, Cleveland and Tampa Bay currently in the top five. The Rams, Vikings and Bucs all have reliable running backs, which leaves Peyton Hillis and the Browns.

He has had a number of issues this season—from injury to contract negotiations—and at this point, it seems unlikely that he will be on the team for 2012.

Unless a team is going to trade into the top five, the Browns are the only team who could conceivably use Richardson because the Rams have Stephen Jackson and the Bucs of LeGarrette Blount.

But it’s not like they don’t need help at a number of other positions before running back, and they could decide to stockpile picks and trade this spot to a team like Washington, who will take Robert Griffin III should he declare.

In order for Richardson to get taken in the top five overall, where he belongs, he will have to go out and prove it in tonight’s national championship.

Playing against LSU’s defense is no cakewalk, but he managed to rack up 169 total yards of offense in the game. Another game like that, and Cleveland will almost be forced to take him.

It’s no secret that the NFL is now a passing league, and Colt McCoy simply won’t cut it. The Browns will bring in a guy to at least spice up the quarterback competition, but they will need a running back to carry the load.

They could trade down and pick up a guy like Lamar Miller, Chris Polk, Doug Martin or even Cyrus Gray or Dan Herron. Cleveland can either build from the bottom up by trading down or keep its pick and go for glory as early as next season.

In order to convince the Browns he is good enough to keep their pick or any other team to trade into the top five for him, Trent Richardson will need a big game in the national championship. Otherwise, some team will be incredibly lucky to pick him up in the five to 15 range.