Maybe as early as 10 years ago, Alabama running back Trent Richardson would be a sure-fire top-10 pick. With his combination of speed, power and lateral quickness, Richardson has everything you want in an NFL running back.
But in this new era of passing football, the running back position is slowly but surely losing value. Teams are now counting on a stable of lower-priced backs to contribute enough in the running game to keep the opponent honest.
Taking a back early in the NFL draft is now almost taboo. Why use a high pick on a running back when you can get a couple in the later rounds, or possibly even after the draft, that give you the same combination of skills?
That's the route most teams are going.
In last April's draft, we didn't see a running back taken until the 28th overall pick when the New Orleans Saints traded up to get Mark Ingram. Could Richardson, Ingram's teammate at Alabama, fall that far?
That's unlikely, as Richardson's skill set is more suited to be a game-changing NFL back. There are a few teams that should be fits this April who pick before No. 28.
Some have Richardson going as high as No. 4 to the Cleveland Browns, but I'd say that's far too early for a running back. Plus, the Browns need to upgrade the quarterback position if possible. But if the Browns don't take Richardson, he could fall all the way to No. 11 and the Chiefs.
Kansas City could use another back to team with a rehabbing Jamaal Charles in 2012. Remember, the Chiefs were at their best when they relied heavily on their run game. They won 10 games and the AFC West in 2010 while leading the NFL in rushing. Richardson would again give the Chiefs that one-two punch in the backfield that they missed last season.
From there, the Cowboys, Jets, Bengals and Browns again at No. 22 are options.
Pick No. 22 is probably the floor for Richardson, as it'd be hard to see the Browns passing on him a second time.
2012 NFL Draft Order
1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14)
2. St. Louis Rams (2-14)
3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13)
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
6. Washington Redskins (5-11)
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
8. Miami Dolphins (6-10)*
8. Carolina Panthers (6-10)*
*Decided by coin flip at NFL combine
10. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
11. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)**
11. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)**
**Decided by coin flip at NFL combine
13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
14. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
16. New York Jets (8-8)
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) (8-8)
18. San Diego Chargers (8-8)
19. Chicago Bears (8-8)
20. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
21. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons) (10-6)
23. Detroit Lions (10-6)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
25. Denver Broncos (8-8)
26. New York Giants (9-7)
27. Houston Texans (10-6)
28. Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
29. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) (13-3)
30. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
31. New England Patriots (13-3)
32. Green Bay Packers (15-1)