Trent Richardson

Draft Grades: Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns hit a home run with their first selection… and it was all downhill from there. The Browns entered the draft with 13 picks – an opportunity to completely change the direction of this floundering franchise – but whiffed in such a way that it could cost Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert their jobs in the not-so-distant future.

Even taking into consideration the somewhat questionable trade, Trent Richardson was a great selection at No 3. The Browns needed to land a can’t-miss prospect in the top 10, and Richardson was arguably the best on the board. He will be a star from day one.

If the Browns were looking to change the face of the franchise, the accomplished that by selecting Brandon Weeden. But it feels like a lateral move to me. Regardless of your opinion of Weeden, the Browns are going nowhere fast. Even if all goes as planned, they won’t be serious contenders until 2014, when Weeden will be 31 years old. I could understand a more established team gambling on Weeden, but the selection simply does not make sense for a franchise with a steep uphill climb just to enter the playoff discussion.

Mitchell Schwartz was a reach in the early 2nd round. At best, he’ll be an average starting right tackle, and that’s not worth the 37th overall selection. He’s essentially a younger Tony Pashos, who the Browns recently released.

John Hughes may have been the reach of the draft. The Browns have two above average starting defensive tackles, and plan to use Frostee Rucker as the three-technique in passing situations. So where does Hughes fit in? It’s hard to do worse than a reach that doesn’t even fill a need.

Travis Benjamin is a track star masquerading as a football player. He could have value as a return specialist, but the Browns already have Josh Cribbs, who is backed up by the more-than-capable Buster Skrine. At best, Benjamin develops into a decent 4th option who can stretch the field, but he was not worth the 100th overall selection.

James-Michael Johnson adds some much-needed depth at the linebacker position. He will likely back up D’Qwell Jackson, but could play any of the three spots in Cleveland’s 4-3 defense.

Ryan Miller adds some depth at guard and could push Shaun Lauvao or Jason Pinkston for playing time, both of whom are coming off disappointing seasons. Lauvao led all guards in sacks allowed and penalties in 2011.

Emmanuel Acho will compete for the backup weak-side linebacker job, and could actually see some playing time early due to Scott Fujita’s suspension.

Billy Winn was arguably the Browns best selection other than Richardson. I gave him a fringe 3rd/4th-round grade and had him rated significantly higher than John Hughes.

Tevin Wade will compete with Buster Skrine for the 4th cornerback job. Like Skrine, he’s undersized and his upside is limited to playing the nickel corner role.

Brad Smelley blocked for Richardson at Alabama, and the Browns reportedly called Richardson about him before making the selection. It’s not a bad decision, but the Browns drafted Owen Marecic in the 4th round last year and parted with Lawrence Vickers to make room for him. What does that say about their evaluation process if they’re willing to give up on Marecic after one year?

I fail to see how this draft class changed Cleveland’s direction in any meaningful way. They have a power running game and a rookie quarterback… is that any different than two years when their offense featured Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy, who, at the time, was viewed as a promising young quarterback? This draft class, coupled with the strong drafts of their division rivals, cemented the Browns place in the AFC North cellar.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Draft Grades - 2012 Comments Off

Browns select Trent Richardson, Grade A

The Cleveland Browns absolutely had to take Trent Richardson, given what was on the board. I’m not crazy about the trade (if the Vikings were willing to settle for a few late round picks, obviously no one was seriously considering a blockbuster trade up) but the Browns still have 11 picks in the draft and will still be able to completely overhaul the roster.

The reason Richardson makes more sense than Justin Blackmon, is due to the fact that Blackmon is very similar to Browns 2011 2nd-round pick, Greg Little. While they would have probably settled for Blackmon in a difference scenario, they’re better off waiting until late in the 1st round or early 2nd round for a receiver who better fits their system.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns Comments Off

Jets prepared to trade up, possibly into top 10

It  has been widely reported that the New York Jets have Trent Richardson at the top of their draft board. It has also been reported that the top pass rusher on their board in Melvin Ingram.

Neither player is going to be on the board at No.16, which means the Jets will need to trade up to land one of their primary targets, and they’re prepared to do just that.

The Jaguars, who own the 7th pick, are a likely trade partner. If they move up to No. 7, the Jets would target Ingram with that selection.

In order to move up into the top 10, the Jets will need to part with their 1st and 2nd round picks this year, and likely another mid-round pick (3rd or 4th round) in 2013.

At this point it sounds as though it’s only a matter of “when” rather than “if” the Jets move up.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Jets Comments Off

How Buccaneers free agent moves affect draft plans

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the most active teams in free agency thus far. But will any of these moves affect their draft strategy?

With the 5th pick the Bucs are likely to target one of the top two players expected to be on the board, Morris Claiborne or Trent Richardson.

Obviously their recent moves won’t affect anything if Richardson is their choice. LeGarrette Blount is still on the roster, but there’s nothing wrong with having two starting-caliber running backs and Richardson is the type of talent that is tough to pass up.

If the Bucs had been entertaining the idea of drafting Claiborne, however, the addition of Eric Wright may lead them in another direction.

By no means should Wright be viewed as an elite cornerback, or even on the same level as Claiborne as an incoming rookie. However, the Bucs gave Wright a substantial five-year contract with $15M guaranteed, indicating that their front office thinks more highly of him than the rest of the league (and definitely more than the fan bases in Cleveland and Detroit).

I certainly wouldn’t endorse passing on Claiborne due to the acquisition of Wright, but it shouldn’t come as a shock if the Bucs now view their cornerback situation as settled – especially if they can talk Ronde Barber into sticking around for another year.

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Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Buccaneers 5 Comments

What to watch for from Trent Richardson vs LSU

When the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the LSU Tigers on Saturday there will be plenty of draft prospects to watch, but all eyes in the scouting community will be on Trent Richardson.

Richardson has already proven himself to be an elite college running back, but LSU represents the closest thing to an NFL defense he’ll face before meeting the real thing. He is a solid 1st-round prospect already, but his performance on Saturday could be the difference between a spot in the top 10 and falling into the latter half of the 1st-round.

Personally, I’m already convinced that Richardson is an elite prospect [he's currently No. 2 on my big board] but there are two things I’ll be looking for on Saturday: Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off

Saturday draft notes

- Potential top-10 pick Jerel Worthy of Michigan State needs to keep his emotions in check. He wasn’t shy about sharing his hatred for Michigan this past week – which is fine – but he clearly let it effect his play on the field. Worthy played out of control at times, and was called for at least one penalty (jumping offside and knocking down a Michigan lineman in the process). This isn’t something that will effect his draft stock, but it is something coaches and GMs may want to discuss with him during his pre-draft interviews.

- Boom Herron had a big game for Ohio State in his return from his suspension. He’s probably a 3rd or 4th round prospect because he lacks the elite size and speed to really stand out, but I like his chances of contributing at the next level. He’s patient, has great vision and is a surprisingly tough runner between the tackles considering his size. He’s sort of a cross between Ahmad Bradshaw and Justin Forsett.

- Illinois junior defensive end Whitney Mercilus had a nice game against Ohio State. Mike Adams was his toughest test of the year, and Mercilus beat him a few times with a variety of moves. He’s quick off the snap, but also showed that he had the strength to fight past Adams even when he didn’t beat him off the snap.

- As for Adams, it was a fairly disappointing performance. He has as much talent as any lineman in this class, but he just looks too soft at times. He seems to lack the mean streak necessary to dominate. He was also called for a costly penalty late in the 4th quarter which helped keep Illinois in the game.

- We have to wait another year before Tyrann Matthieu is draft-eligible, but Morris Claiborne could come out this year and he is looking like a potential top-15 pick. He does a great job turning to play the ball, rather than strictly reacting to the receiver. He made another nice play today against Tennessee where he essentially became the receiver, and nearly returned the pick for a touchdown.

- Trent Richardson continues to improve his draft stock. If you missed his big run against Ole Miss check it out on youtube. He is every bit as good as Adrian Peterson was coming out of college and should be a top-10 lock.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off

Trent Richardson scouting report

Trent Richardson RB Alabama #3
Ht: 5’11″Wt: 224
Prototypical size and strength for a workhorse running back. Exceptional vision; does a great job reacting to the defense and hitting holes with a burst. A powerful downhill runner; strong legs allow him to easily break arm tackles and push the pile when he’s wrapped up. Quick feet. Good lateral movement for a guy his size – he’s more than just a north/south runner. Solid receiver out of the backfield; shows soft hands and does a nice job of quickly securing the ball and turning to get downfield.
Only one full year carry the load; split carries with Mark Ingram for the first two years of his career. Speed is good but not great; lacks the burst to consistently be productive running outside the tackles. A willing blocker, but technique needs refinement. Running style invites a lot of hits, he’ll wear down quickly if asked to carry the ball 20+ times per game over a 16-game schedule.
Richardson reminds me of Steven Jackson. He’s a big, physical runner with just enough speed and quickness to make guys miss. But what stands out most his is vision. He sees the whole field and quickly identifies his holes, hitting them with an impressive burst. He has all the skills necessary to be an elite NFL running back and should be a star from day one.
School Bio
Trent Richardson could contend for All-SEC and All-America honors in 2011 … has proven why he was one of the nation’s top running back prospects as a backup to Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram during his first two years on campus, but 2011 promises to be a breakout year for the junior from Pensacola … burst onto the scene with 751 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 145 carries in 2009 and followed that with 700 yards on 112 rushes in 2010 … possesses the power to break tackles and gain yards after contact and the speed to be a home run threat … a SEC All-Freshman selection by league coaches and Sporting News … won the Johnny Musso Offensive Back Award following 2010 spring practice and the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award in 2011 along with the Dixie Howell Memorial Most Valuable Player of the A-Day Game Award.
Richardson started the first two games of the season at running back in place of an injured Mark Ingram … his performances made the loss of Ingram go almost unnoticed against San Jose State and Penn State … earned second-team All-SEC as both an all-purpose back and a return specialist … second on the team with 700 yards rushing with six rushing touchdowns … averaged a team high 6.2 yards per carry (minimum 75 carries) … had two 100-yard rushing games — 144 vs. Penn State and 119 at Tennessee … averaged 63.6 yards per game that ranked 89th nationally and 11th in the SEC … caught 23 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns for an 11.6 yards per catch average …. led the team with 36 explosive plays of 15 yards or more (nine rushing, five receiving, 22 kickoff returns) … second on the team with 32 first down carries and had nine first-down receptions … averaged 26.42 yards on kickoff returns (24 for 634) to rank 29th nationally and fourth in the SEC … 21st nationally and second in the conference with 145.45 all-purpose yards per game (1,600 yards) … a seven-time player of the week by the Tide coaching staff with three offensive and four special teams awards … named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list, which goes to the nation’s most versatile player.San Jose State: Started his first career game and averaged 6.6 yards per carry, finishing with 66 yards on 10 carries … caught three passes for 46 yards … scored two rushing touchdowns. Penn State: Recorded the third 100-yard rushing game of his career … tallied a career-best 144 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown … caught four passes out of the backfield for 46 yards … finished with 207 all-purpose yards. Duke: Came off the bench to spell Ingram and finished with 61 yards on seven carries for 8.71 yards per carry … scored one rushing touchdown on a 45-yard sprint, virtually untouched, through the Blue Devil defense … also returned a second-quarter kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, the first Tide player to return a kickoff for a score since Tyrone Prothro in 2004 … finished with 184 all-purpose yards. Arkansas: His 227 all-purpose yards against the Razorbacks earned him recognition as one of the Paul Hornung Award’s Most Versatile Performances of the Week … gained 85 yards on eight carries (10.6 ypc), 25 yards on two receptions and 117 yards on four kickoff returns … scored his sixth touchdown of the season on a 20-yard screen pass in the Tide’s second-half comeback. Florida: Ran for a team-high 63 yards on 10 carries … broke free for a 30-yard gain in the first half to set up a score … returned three kicks for 58 yards with a long of 23 … totaled 121 all-purpose yards.South Carolina: Named the Special Teams Player of the Week by the coaching staff with six kickoff returns for 142 yards and a long of 31 yards … carried the ball six times for 23 yards … caught two passes for 12 yards. Mississippi: Did a little bit of everything in the Tide’s 23-10 win over Mississippi … accounted for 220 all-purpose yards … set a career high with an 85-yard reception for a touchdown … finished with 101 yards on five receptions … rushed 11 times for 45 yards while returning three kickoffs for 74 yards. Tennessee: Broke free for 119 yards on just 12 carries for an average of 9.92 yards per tote … scored on a career-long 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter … had five first down rushes … caught one pass. LSU: Rushed six times for 28 yards including a 22-yard first down burst to the Tigers’ 1-yard line … caught a touchdown pass on the next play only to sprain his left knee as tackles piled on after the play out of bounds … returned to the game but saw limited action after that. Auburn: Returned to the field after missing the Mississippi State and Georgia State games with a sprained knee … rushed the ball 10 times for 24 yards and one first-down carry … also caught three passes for nine yards.Michigan State: Rushed 10 times for 42 yards and one rushing touchdown on a nine-yard plunge in the second quarter of a 49-7 win over the No. 7 Spartans … caught one pass for 12 yards … had two first downs rushing and one receiving … returned one kickoff for 18 yards … finished with 72 all-purpose yards.
He was an explosive option at running back off the bench for the Crimson Tide as a true freshman in 2009 … a SEC All-Freshman selection by league coaches and Sporting News … finished with 751 yards rushing on 145 carries and eight touchdowns in 14 games … averaged 5.2 yards per carry … ranked 10th in the SEC in rushing with 53.64 yards per game … also had 16 receptions for 126 yards … had a reception in 10-of-14 games … 37 rushes and eight receptions went for a first down or touchdown … had 12 explosive rushes of 12 yards or more … averaged 64.1 all-purpose yards per game … his long rush was a 52-yard burst vs. Arkansas where he broke five tackles on his way to the end zone … also broke free for a 49-yard scoring dash against Texas … recorded two 100-yard rushing games with 118 yards vs. Florida International and 109 yards against Texas in the Citi BCS National Championship Game. Virginia Tech: Came off the bench late in the second half to rush for 10 yards on three carries. Florida International: Saw more extensive playing time after Roy Upchruch sprained an ankle early in the first half and Mark Ingram was limited with the flu … took advantage of that playing time, rushing for 118 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns … also caught two passes for 23 yards … had three first-down rushes and two first-down receptions vs. the Panthers. North Texas: Carried the ball 11 times for 87 yards for a 7.9 yards per carry average … scored his third touchdown of the season with a one-yard run in the second quarter … caught one pass for three yards … had four rushes that were good for first downs. Arkansas: Produced one of the best runs of the 2009 college football season with his 52-yard burst up the Alabama sideline for the Tide’s first score against the Razorbacks … bounced off and ran through five Hog tacklers and then out ran an Arkansas defensive back to the end zone … finished with 65 yards on nine carries … also caught two passes for 16 yards. Kentucky:Carried the ball 14 times for 26 yards against a tough Kentucky rush defense … also caught one pass for nine yards that went for a first down. Mississippi: rushed nine times for 40 yards as the Tide rolled up 200 yards rushing … hauled in one reception for nine yards … had one rush that converted a first down on a 10-yard scamper … also saw playing time on special teams. South Carolina: Gained 13 yards on five carries against the Gamecocks … also caught two passes for 11 yards … picked up first downs for the Tide with a 14-yard run and a nine-yard pass. Tennessee: Accounted for 18 yards on eight carries … had two rushes that resulted in first downs for the Crimson Tide … caught one pass for two yards. LSU: Carried the ball six times for 27 yards … averaged 4.5 yards per rush … broke free for a long rush of 11 yards against the Tigers, which was good for an Alabama first down. Mississippi State: Was explosive off the bench against the Bulldogs with 47 yards on 11 carries … broke free for an 18-yard run in the second quarter to set up an Alabama touchdown.Chattanooga: Found the end zone for the fifth time on a two-yard plunge in the first quarter … carried the ball nine times for 60 yards … picked up four first downs … caught one pass for three yards. Auburn: Saw his most extensive playing time to date with 15 carries for 51 yards and a two-yard touchdown run … also caught three passes for 31 yards, including a 17-yard reception on the Tide’s game-winning drive that converted a first down. Florida: Again proved to be a valuable weapon in the Crimson Tide’s offensive attack … rushed for 80 yards on 11 carries for a 7.27 yards per carry average against the nation’s No. 1 defense … broke free for a 25-yard run as the Tide clinched the SEC Championships with a 32-13 win. Texas: Came off the bench to gash the Longhorn defense for 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns while catching two passes for 19 yards … had four rushes and two receptions that converted first downs for the Tide in the 37-21 victory … galloped 49-yards untouched in the second quarter for the go-ahead score … teamed with Mark Ingram to become the first running back tandem to each rush for at least 100 yards in a game since Alabama’s 2004 season opener — a span of 77 games.
High School
Richardson came to the Capstone as one of the most highly sought after running back prospects in the country … a rare combination of size, speed and elusiveness … Parade All-American … Under Armour All-American … USA Today All-American … EA Sports First-Team All-American … SuperPrep All-American … consensus five-star recruit … ranks him as the No. 6 overall player in its Rivals100 while also listing him as the top player in the state of Florida and No. 2 running back in the country … ESPNU lists him as the country’s top-ranked running back and No. 6 in the ESPNU150 … has him as the nation’s No. 2 running back and 13th overall player … SuperPrep magazine lists him at No. 25 on its Elite 50 list, as the No. 2 running back and the No. 5 recruit in Florida … is a first-team All-American by Tom Lemming’s Prep Football Report and the publication’s No. 19 overall player … also lists him as the country’s top insider runner, the No. 1 downhill runner and the No. 3 home run threat … the No. 4 player in The Mobile Press-Register Super Southeast 120 … member of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 … top-ranked player in Florida by The Orlando Sentinel and named to the publications All-Southern team … Florida Athletic Coaches Association 5A Player of the Year and a finalist for Florida’s Mr. Football … Florida Sports Writers Association First-Team 5A All-State selection as a senior after being selected to the second team as a junior … rushed for 2,090 yards on 225 carries (9.3 ypc) and scored 26 touchdowns as a senior in 2008 for Escambia, including a single-game record of 419 yards … registered 1,490 on the ground with 15 touchdowns in just seven games as a junior … … timed at 10.5 in the 100 meters on the track … brother Terrell Richardson plays defensive end at Louisiana-Lafayette. … coached by Jimmy Nichols … chose Alabama over Florida, LSU, Florida State, and Tennessee.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Comments Off