On one hand, the popular notions that Trent Richardson is the best running back to hit the NFL draft since Adrian Peterson are true. On the other, any comparison between the two players skill sets are not.
Intrinsically, they are running backs with different styles. But both are players that teams can build an offense around, and both are most certainly game-breakers.
Peterson has more burst and explosion than Richardson and certainly a higher top speed. He also runs more upright and is the more likely of the two to outrun the secondary.
Richardson is more compact and has more pure strength and power. Both possess excellent vision, balance and agility, and each bounce off of tacklers and never go down easily.
Neither is a liability in blitz pickup, and each are serviceable coming out of the backfield.
So while Richardson may not be as dangerous a quick-strike weapon as Peterson is, he's actually the safer pick coming out of college.
For one, Richardson is not injury prone and doesn't have a ton of wear-and-tear on his body since he was only the starter at Alabama for one season. Peterson came into the NFL with a bit of an injury history having battled a high-ankle sprain in 2005 and suffering a broken collarbone in 2006.
Peterson also had fumbling issues in college, something Richardson never experienced.
So I stand by the notion that Richardson is the safer selection, a big reason why he may be selected higher in the first round than Peterson was. What you lose in explosiveness, you get back in power and consistency.
Either way, the two running backs have this in common—both can take over a game, wear a defense down or burst toward the end zone at any time. Both are worthy of building an offense around and soon enough Richardson will be talked about in the same breath as Peterson when the topic of elite NFL running backs is discussed.
The comparison is warranted, even if the players aren't carbon copies of one another.
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