The Cleveland Browns have been floundering since their return to the NFL in 1999. Mike Holmgren, the current president of the organization, has found their saving grace when he traded up to draft Trent Richardson.
This kid is going to be phenomenal.
Richardson will hold numerous franchise records before his sure-to-be illustrious career is over. However, he will begin his assault on the record books immediately.
The possibilities include the league records for rushing yards and touchdowns in a rookie season. Those two marks are held by Eric Dickerson (1,808 in 1983) and Gale Sayers (22 in 1965).
There are numerous reasons that Richardson will etch his name in history during his rookie campaign.
However, none are more important than his build. He is constructed like the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice or the most consistent running back in the league—Maurice Jones-Drew.
At 5'9" and 228 lbs, the only distinction between the three is that Richardson is actually 10 and 20 pounds heavier than Rice and Jones-Drew. That means the no-neck Alabama prospect is better equipped to challenge attempted tackles.
In fact, Richardson loves dishing out punishment.
"Any time someone's in my way, I'm going to try to knock them over. Either they're going to hit me or I'm going to hit them. So nine times out of 10, I'm trying to throw the lick." - Trent Richardson
That type of rushing approach should prolong runs and help protect against injury. When a running back anticipates and engages the defender, his body will be in a better position to handle the impact.
Furthermore, the extra weight will enable him to handle the pounding he will be forced to endure as a feature back.
The rookie's game is not totally predicated on power. He also has the agility and balance to make people miss or keep his momentum after shedding tacklers.
For instance, there was one particular play against the Ole Miss Rebels that exhibited these traits (see video). Richardson took the handoff, exploded downfield and then put a nasty ankle-breaking maneuver on the defensive back.
Even established NFL safeties will swoon at his moves.
Another reason for Richardson's impending success is opportunity.
In his only season as a starter for the Crimson Tide, the Doak Walker Award winner accounted for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns. He will not be sitting behind Mark Ingram, Jr. to begin his Browns tenure or anybody else for that matter.
Former starter Peyton Hillis signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and the only other challengers for carries will be Brandon Jackson and Montario Hardesty. Neither figures to be much of a threat and they won't be "vulturing" touchdowns from the more talented rookie.
In addition, the passing attack is likely to struggle.
Incumbent starting quarterback Colt McCoy is already being written off by plenty of experts. Fellow first-round pick Brandon Weeden may have had 28 years to mature, but will still need time to adjust to the speed of a NFL game.
There will be no such concern for Richardson. Running backs depend on instinct and do not have to worry about their timing with wide receivers.
Speaking of wideouts, Cleveland will be starting either Mohamed Massaquoi, Greg Little, Joshua Cribbs, or Travis Benjamin. None of these players will keep defensive coordinators up at night.
Therefore, Richardson will be given plenty of carries as the offense will rely heavily on him to move the chains and rack up touchdowns.
Lastly, he will not lack motivation.
As a young father of two daughters, Trent can handle adversity and will run with purpose. He's certainly aware that in order to provide for his kids, he will need to set himself up nicely for that all-important second contract.
Running backs have a short shelf life. There is usually only one opportunity to cash in on their talent before a rusher is considered washed up.
Additionally, Richardson will turn positional and personal disrespect into fuel.
First, he has stated that the lack of respect for the running back triggers his determination. The young man has gone on record that he wants to re-elevate his position to the lofty status that it previously enjoyed.
Second, former Browns great Jim Brown simply could not help himself when asked about Cleveland's first-round pick. Brown said publicly that he believes Richardson to be a role player and that he does not "see anything outstanding about him."
Trent Richardson is probably going to deflect any questions about the Hall of Famer, but the public won't believe him. Those words are sure to ignite something deep inside him.
When all is said and done, there may be a legitimate debate about which is the greater Brown. As for the rest of the league, you have been put on notice.
Get your erasers out.
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