Sunday, April 15, 2012

NFL Draft Focus: The Trent Richardson Effect on The Top 10

How will Alabama's Trent Richardson effect the top 10
of the 2012 NFL Draft? 
There are a few players who will impact April 26th's NFL draft. Trent Richardson is the player I will spotlight today. Richardson will dictate how the top 10 picks shake out in a number of ways. Before we get into a few scenarios, first let's take a look at Richardson.

The Alabama running back should not be a surprise to anyone at this point in the year. Over his three year career Richardson compiled 3,128 rushing yards, 730 receiving yards and 43 total touchdowns. He had to share his time with New Orleans running back Mark Ingram in 2010 and 2009. A product of Pensacola, Florida, Richardson graduated from Escambia High School in 2008. That year, he was the number two running back recruit in the nation and chose Alabama over Florida, Florida State and LSU. Richardson is a strong, physical running back who is not afraid to run through a defender. Considered the number 1 running back prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft, which ever team takes Richardson is going to get a quality back. But where he goes, could change a lot about the makeup of the top 10 in this year's draft. Let's take a look at a few scenarios. First, we will assume Andrew Luck goes #1, Robert Griffin III goes #2 and Matt Kalil goes #3:

1. Trent Richardson goes #4 overall to Cleveland: 
Reasoning for Richardson: After striking out on trading up for Robert Griffin III, the Browns need a play maker on offense. After losing Peyton Hillis to Kansas City, the Browns #1 running back will be Montario Hardesty or Chris Ogbonnaya. Neither of these two should be relied on by the Browns to effectively carry the ball. 
Will the Browns be relying on Montario Hardesty in 2012
or will they draft a rookie running back to take the place
of Peyton Hills?

Reasoning against Richardson: Taking running backs this high is usually frowned on in the NFL. With the success of late round backs and the Browns having the #22 as well, they should look to address the offensive line, defensive line or wide receiver at this spot. Cleveland could look to take Ryan Tannehill or Justin Blackmon here as well.

Impact on the top 10: Allows Justin Blackmon and Ryan Tannehill to fall at least another spot. Blackmon could go to Jacksonville, Miami, Carolina or Buffalo.

2. Trent Richardson goes #5 overall to Tampa Bay:
Reasoning for Richardson: LeGarrette Blount followed up his successful rookie year with a disappointing sophomore slump. Tampa Bay upgraded their offensive line with Carl Nicks and receiving corps with Vincent Jackson this off-season. The Bucs could finish their offensive upgrade and select the best running back prospect in the draft. 

Reasoning against Richardson: The Buccaneers have larger needs than a number 1 running back right now. Their corner backs are aging, led by Ronde Barber and their pass rush was the worst in the NFL last year. They could use a defensive tackle and corner back before considering a running back.

Impact on the top 10: Again, allows for Blackmon and Tannehill to drop. Teams could consider trading up soon to snag Richardson.

3. Richardson falls to Carolina and a team like the Bengals, Lions or Jets trade up to grab him.

Are the Jets content trusting Shonn Greene as the
number one running back or will they trade up if
Trent Richardson starts to fall?
All three teams could use an effective number 1 running back. All three teams make sense but Cincinnati or Detroit might be the most dangerous teams if they trade up. The Lions with a running back like Richardson could be a top three team in the NFC. The Bengals made plenty of noise last year and would only become better with Richardson. 

Impact on the top 10: If a team is willing to trade up and grab Richardson, another player is going to fall as a result. If Tannehill goes in the top 10, along with Richardson, that means a number of defensive players will be available for the taking by the other six teams in the top 10. 

It will be interesting to see where Richardson goes and how it impacts the top 10. Here is a quick look at my current top 10 without trades. A full mock draft will come before the draft in 11 days.

My current top 10:
1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck - QB - Stanford

2. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III - QB - Baylor
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil - OT - Southern California
4. Cleveland Browns - Ryan Tannehill - QB - Texas A&M
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne - Louisiana State University
6. St. Louis Rams - Justin Blackmon - WR - Oklahoma State
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Fletcher Cox - DT - Mississippi State
8. Miami Dolphins - Trent Richardson - RB - Alabama
9. Carolina Panthers - Dontari Poe - NT - Memphis
10. Buffalo Bills - Michael Floyd - WR - Notre Dame

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