This is it, guys. Close the door behind you, buckle up, and be sure to tip Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Adam Schefter, and the rest of their cronies handsomely for the wild ride and three days of entertainment they’re about to provide us. Kiper especially, because after Saturday he rolls over and goes back into deep hibernation.
Each year the draft rumors naturally percolate and build to a crescendo as we approach zero hour, and we can often look back and locate the exact moment when the point of no return was crossed. That time is now. Right now, and the brave one who led us into the land beyond is ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio courtesy of a discovery he made regarding the New York Jets’ draft board.
There’s a name atop that board which has no business occupying such lofty real estate on any team’s board that holds a pick in the middle of the first round. The name is Trent Richardson, easily the best running back in this year’s class. He’s long been pegged as a top five pick, most likely going to the Browns at No. 4 or the Bucs a pick later. If by some stroke of faith he makes it past both Cleveland and Tampa Bay, then it’s pretty inconceivable that he’ll slide further, as the Rams will gladly take the gift at No. 6 and draft the successor to Steven Jackson.
So the Jets would have to make a massive leap, and therefore pay a significant price through a trade to be in the Richardson conversation, moving up a minimum of 10 spots from their current perch at No. 16, and more likely 11 or 12 spots. Paolantonio is a trusted, and well connected source, so we’re not doubting his reporting here. We just hope he realizes that he’s being used as a dirty pawn, that’s all.
Sure, it’s possible for such a trade to be executed. Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum has a history of aggressive first-round moves, including trades that netted Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, and Dustin Keller. The motivation to acquire Richardson–aside from that fact that he’s, you know, really good–is clear too, with the Jets set to transition back to a focus on the running game under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, and there’s little reliable depth beyond Shonn Greene at the position.
But paying the massive price to get Richardson would be both unwise and crippling. Consider the amount of limbs ripped from the Redskins when they moved up just four spots to be in a position to draft Robert Griffin III. Including the Redskins’ sixth overall pick this year, the Rams received three first-round picks, and a second rounder.
Griffin is only slightly ahead of Richardson in terms of his stature in this year’s draft. In fact, it could be argued that Richardson has more trade value than RG3, because whereas Griffin has another rather prominent name in front of him at his position, Richardson is lonely at the top. In today’s NFL it’s nearly become blasphemous for an RB to receive serious top 10 consideration, let alone top five. But Richardson is the exception, and we’ll likely wait at least 20 picks for the next player to be drafted at his position, if there’s even another running back taken in the first round at all.
The allure of Richardson is quite understandable, and some extra intrigue was added to this when the Jets called the Alabama stud to get his contact information in case a first-round trade came together. But given the price and the glaring needs at other positions (namely safety and wide receiver), there’s something very pornographic about this rumor.
If only there was an explicit sexual expression to perfectly describe the league-wide hand motions happening right now…