Drafting a running back in the top 10 has become a risky proposition. The NFL is a pass-heavy league, with tandems in the backfield becoming the norm. Since 2002, 24 running backs have been taken in the first round. Seven have been taken in the first ten picks. Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden have proven their worth. Reggie Bush and Cadillac Williams have not.
This brings us to Alabama running back Trent Richardson. The five-star recruit from Escambia High School (Emmit Smith’s old stomping grounds) was a dominant force for the Crimson Tide. In his final collegiate season Richardson broke Mark Ingram’s school record for yards in a season. Where will he end up on April 26?
Weight: 244 pounds
Born: July 10, 1990
Richardson skipped the NFL combine after undergoing minor knee surgery on February 23, 2012.
2011: 14 GP 1679 yards 21 Touchdowns 29 REC 338 yards 3 Touchdowns
2010: 11 GP 700 yards 6 Touchdowns 23 REC 266 yards 4 Touchdowns
2009: 13 GP 751 yards 8 Touchdowns 16 REC 126 yards
What the experts say
“Trent Richardson might be the best position player in this draft,” Mayock said. “I watched 150 of his carries today. I watched every catch he made on tape today. . . . I watched every pass protection I could find in about a 10-game span, and he might be the best pass-protecting running back in this draft also.”
“For the NFL, Richardson looks like a three-down back. He is a good receiver out of the backfield who has the skill set to develop into a quality blitz protector. Richardson has an elite combination of strength and speed. He gets yards after contact from his strength, and is fast enough to break off long touchdowns on a carry or reception. Some believe that Richardson is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson.”
“The best running back prospect I’ve seen since Adrian Peterson. His running style might limit his shell life a bit in the NFL. However, he’s the kind of back you can ride like a rented mule from day one and should become one of the NFL’s top runners early on.”
“Put simply, only the likes of Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker have come into the mighty SEC and physically dominated opponents with a combination of size, speed and power like Richardson. A first-round pick with the potential to warrant a spot in the top 10.”
“Front office men I spoke with are not overly concerned about Richardson’s knee, and he is not likely to fall in the draft as a result. However, he has not been able to run for the NFL and interested teams will need to keep a close eye on his progress leading up to the draft.”
“Two years ago when Ingram won the Heisman, people at Alabama laughed behind the scenes saying, ‘Ingram isn’t even the best player in his own backfield, ” one scout said. “And Ingram is a nice player. But Richardson is big-time. He is probably the most complete player in this draft. Every superlative that you could put on him he’s got.” Regarded as a mature person and a tremendous worker. “He immediately changes your team,” another scout said. “From whatever it is to a tough team. Because he’s a tough guy. He’s the total package. Pass protects. Everything.”
“Where he goes in the top 10 will be interesting to see. Teams don’t love drafting running backs that high, but I think he’s worth it.”
“Once we see Richardson get to the second level of the defense, his play making ability takes over. We have to wait to see what time of number he posts on the stopwatch in the 40, but he posses enough speed (and creativity) in the open field.”
The scouting community is in agreement: Richardson is worthy of a high selection. Noted as a “team player” (for whatever that’s worth), Richardson will come off the board early, very early.
Most talent evaluators have LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne and Richardson slotted at the four and five spots, but which order they go in remains unclear. NFC defences should shudder at the thought of a LeGarrette Blount-Trent Richardson pairing.