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Trent Richardson, RB and Lamichael James, RB
Could This Happen?
In my humble opinion, Trent Richardson is leaps and bounds better than last year’s top RB prospect, Mark Ingram. He’s bigger, stronger, faster and comes with less injury concerns than Ingram.
The only reason he falls out of the top 10 is due to the emergence of the passing game. With the league throwing the ball more and more and running the ball less and less, teams are less willing to pay top dollar for a lesser used commodity.
Rumors swirled last year that the Lions were trying to move up draft boards to acquire the services of top cornerback Patrick Peterson. If Richardson somehow falls out of the top ten, I wouldn’t scoff at the notion that the Loins move up to nab him.
Lamichael James has been one of the most talked about college stars over the last couple of seasons. He possesses great quickness and deceptive speed. The man is always a play away from SportsCenter’s Top 10.
The knock on James is his size. He enters the draft at 5’9”, 185 pounds. That fact alone will probably drop him down draft boards. The player he will be constantly compared to is Darren Sproles.
James will probably never be an every-down back but, if used correctly, he can be a key cog in the offense. If James is there around the third round, don’t be surprised if the Lions move to grab him.
Why This Makes Sense:
The injury bug has seemed to have found a nest in the offensive backfield. The Lions have drafted three RBs within the first three rounds over the last four years. It’s not that any of those three lacked talent, it’s just that they haven’t been healthy enough to make an impact.
Kevin Smith has flashed glimpses of brilliance, but has not been able to complete a full season. With concussions dating back to his college days, Jahvid Best’s career may already be over. Mikel LeShoure has yet to take a single hand off in an NFL game due to an injury sustained during last year’s shortened training camp.
I fully expect him to return, but it is unknown if he will heal completely or if his game will transition well to the NFL level. Much of that is speculation but, one thing is for sure: The Lions need to find a running game in order to progress.
Though much of the league has converted to a pass-heavy offense, there is still a need for effective running. Matthew Stafford and company proved that point. Even with a 5,000+ yard passer under center, the best receiver in the league, and a plethora of receiving targets, the Loins failed to progress past the first round.
If the current Lions RBs can't kick the injury bug, a Richardson/James tandem would prove to be a more than adequate one-two punch out of the backfield. The tandem would keep defenses honest and provide more weapons to an already dangerous offense.