You’ve heard it a million times this draft season: no running back is worth taking in the top 5 anymore.
It’s not that statistics don’t make a pretty darn good argument for that. Look no further than Arian Foster, who was undrafted and led the NFL in rushing yards. Look at the plethora of other backs who have been drafted outside of the first round and blossomed, while plenty of first-rounders have floundered.
But I’ve been saying it, and I’ll say it again: Trent Richardson is worth a top-5 pick.
Experts continue to say that you can get productive runners in later rounds, and I don’t disagree with that. What I disagree with is passing up a player like Richardson simply because you can get a serviceable option at his position later in the draft.
Richardson has the ideal frame for a RB. He’s equal parts speed and power. He is everything Adrian Peterson was coming out of college, except that he doesn’t fumble, doesn’t have a long injury history, and is a terror in the passing game. He dominated in the toughest conference in college football, is head-and-shoulders above former teammate and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. Don’t believe it? Ingram has said it himself, even since they were teammates.
Throw in the fact that Richardson has plenty of tread on his tires, considering he backed up Ingram for two years, and when he was finally the lead dog, he shared plenty of carries with other talented Tide underclassmen (and had a few games where he didn’t play beyond the third quarter), and you’ve got a recipe for a truly special player.
Again, I don’t disagree that there’s value at RB late in the draft. But there is also value at every other position, and history has proved that just as often. If NFL GM’s can honestly look at tape of Richardson and decide he’s not worth a top-5 pick…then come next season and beyond, there’s going to be plenty of them who wished they had felt differently, and one who is thanking his lucky stars that they did.