NFL Draft 2012: Why the Cleveland Browns Should Pass on Trent Richardson
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
That logic seems to have become the mainstream opinion regarding the powerful running back out of Alabama.
There are valid arguments that support that logic. Adding an elite prospect like Richardson would certainly improve the Browns offense.
1. He will add another dimension that isn't currently there. The dual-threat running back could electrify fans with his strength and shifty cuts in the open field.
2. Richardson will touch the ball more than any other skilled positional player. He'd have a large role in the passing game out of the backfield in the Browns' West Coast Offense.
3. He is unique in that he looks like the complete package at running back.
However, there are some overwhelming statistics and contrary analysis to support passing on Richardson in the top five of April's draft. I do not believe in devaluing him as a prospect or player, although some analysts have expressed that sentiment. I simply believe the Browns' future success to not be predicated on the success of an every-down running back.
1. Only two of the past 10 Super Bowl winning teams had a running back drafted in the first round: Joseph Addai from the Indianapolis Colts (30th overall) and Antowain Smith from the New England Patriots (23rd overall). The Pittsburgh Steelers still had Jerome Bettis during their 2005 Super Bowl season, but his role was diminished to short yardage and blocking.
Who is the best alternative to Richardson?
The 2009 Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints accomplished that feat with two undrafted free agents carrying the rock for them.
Last year, the Super Bowl champion New York Giants utilized seventh- and fourth-round running backs effectively in their offense and have gotten elite quality production out of them.
For years the Pittsburgh Steelers rode undrafted free agent Willie Parker to the Super Bowl and won two rings with him as their leading rusher.
2. Of the leading rushers over the past five seasons, only two playoff wins came as a result of their efforts.
3. The Browns' first pick of this year's draft needs to be the cornerstone pick for the team over the span of the next 10 years. With the increasing platoon tactic of a running back-by-committee method, the importance of an elite "feature back" is greatly diminished.
Again, the risk versus reward when drafting a running back high in the draft is not beneficial to the longevity of franchise success. Running backs are a large part of the offense, yes, and thus take a beating. It is the most oft injured position in the game.
4. The possibility to trade down and select a wide receiver like Michael Floyd while accumulating extra picks should not be understated. This is especially true because the Browns are not "one-player away" from contention. If they can score extra second- and third-round picks by giving up the rights to their No. 4 selection, the Browns can improve the team and still find and excellent running back in the later rounds like Doug Martin, David Wilson, Lamar Miller, Chris Polk, LaMichael James and Cyrus Gray.
5. Tom Heckert used two fifth-round picks and the Browns' third-round pick in 2010 to trade back into the second round to select Montario Hardesty. Hardesty has not proven he can stay healthy, but he, along with fellow second-rounder Brandon Jackson, are competent ball carriers. Jackson led the Green Bay Packers rushing attack during their Super Bowl run in 2010. While they both do not jump off the page as being every down rushers, they do have the ability to run effectively as a tandem in a synced and functioning offense.
Heckert believed, at the time he made the move for Hardesty, that he could be the primary running back of the Browns offense.
6. The boom-or-bust nature of the position. Will Trent Richardson be Ki-Jana Carter or Adrian Peterson?
The common denominator of all of these points is that by building the offensive line and adding a legitimate threat at wide receiver, a team’s running back is not needed to be an elite every down back in the current makeup of the NFL. Success is not predicated on the caliber play of a team’s perceived “feature back.”
Many spectacular running backs have been plucked from the mid-late draft rounds and even through the undrafted free agency pool. Adding one of these players to the current stable of running backs is possible without sacrificing the most important of the team’s selections. That selection should be used to address a position that is harder to fill with productive players.
Whether it be quarterback, wide receiver, defensive end, cornerback or offensive tackle, it is of my belief all of those choices would be a better value option for the Browns than they would get by selecting a running back.
Remember, I value Trent Richardson as an elite prospect. He is probably the best in this class. However, I think there should be some heavier skepticism around him being the current consensus pick for the Browns with their fourth overall selection. Skepticism and opinions are beautiful things, just as you're entitled to yours, I've presented you with mine.
So, after hearing my case, who should the Browns select? Should it be Ryan Tannehill, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Morris Claiborne or someone else that isn't being discussed?
There is a growing push for the Browns to select Ryan Tannehill with the No. 4 pick. A move like that would completely make or break the Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert era in Cleveland.
On the flip side, Heckert favors drafting cornerbacks, defensive ends and offensive tackles early in the draft. He has never taken a running back in the first round, but did trade up to select Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with the 19th overall pick in 2010.
For now, I'll leave it at that.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?