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Monthly Archives: April 2012

What I Learned – Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2012 NFL Draft

A Few Things I learned from the NFL Draft – Rounds 1 through 3

1 – Overall, not a flashy draft, but potentially one with long-term players:

When reviewing the Cleveland Browns eleven draft selections in the 2012 NFL Draft, one does not see many likely (excluding the first round picks) perennial pro bowlers.  However, with the type of athletes selected (lineman) one could envision members staying on the team for several seasons.  Building in the trenches on both sides of the ball is important for two reasons.  First these players are key when giving “playmakers” an easier chance to showcase their skills.   Next, these players will be on special teams if they do not latch on the offensive or defensive units; looking at the unproductive 2011 unit and these players are important.

2 – The Richardson pick was a great one and was worth it:

It was abundantly clear that the Browns needed someone the offense can build around while the quarterback situation is not stable.  Trent was highly touted and is expected to make the offense improve drastically.  We fans should be excited that we finally get a back that can perform all three areas a running back needs to excel; running, catching, and blocking.  It never really seemed like a Browns running back could achieve all those (consistently) in recent history.

Some analysts have been critical of the franchise for trading up one selection and relinquishing a fourth, fifth, and seventh round selection in order to secure Richardson.  For several reasons, I feel like this was not a negative for the team.  First, the team had thirteen picks (at the time) and not all are guaranteed to make the roster in 2012 (even if they do their chance of excelling is not great).   Next, after missing out on Griffin III, the Browns needed a skilled offensive talent in the draft that could improve on the 31st ranked offense in terms of scoring.  The team simply couldn’t afford to lose out of Trent.  Finally, I firmly believe the Buccaneers were in hot pursuit of Richardson; trading back after the Browns selected him and trading up for running back Doug Martin at pick number 31 only solidifies this.

3 – After initial negative response, the Weeden pick can prove to be solid:

Admittedly, I was somewhat disappointed that the Browns selected Brandon Weeden and number 22; not because I don’t think he will be a good player but that he could have been taken at number 37.  However, with all the trades early in the first round and not wanting to miss out on the play caller, Cleveland felt they had to make the pick at that position.  I find it hard to argue that drafting Weeden is not an upgrade at quarterback; the team is always looking to get better at all facets of the game and Brandon is just one of the many examples of the team accomplishing that.  Granted, his window of opportunity may not be as large as other quarterbacks, but several productive seasons behind center will be huge for the franchise.

4 – Although it was not expected by, Mitchell Schwartz is a smart pick:

Tom Heckert stated there were only three wide receivers in the draft that could have come in and start right away (Blackmon, Floyd, and Wright).   After all were taken, the Browns looked at other areas where the team could find an opening day starter instead.  Forgoing Stephen Hill and Reuben Randle was the front office’s way of stating these may be projects that might not produce for a little while.

On the other hand, Mitchell Schwartz will (barring unforeseen circumstances) be the starting right tackle on opening day.  Personally, I felt he was the third best offensive lineman available at that spot (behind Cordy Glenn and Jonathan Martin), but I will trust the talent evaluators who know more about the players.  Provided he pans out, the Browns will only have to draft offensive lineman later in the draft as depth for years to come; beginning next season the team can (hopefully) focus primarily on playmakers with their early picks.

5 – John Hughes has a chance to prove his doubters wrong:

I was completed shocked the Browns took a defensive tackle this early, but I get why they took one.  Picking Phil Taylor last season at the 21st spot last season and having Athyba Rubin entrenched as the other starting defensive tackle, and one wonders why the team chose another player at this area.  However, these two athletes both played over sixty percent of the total plays the entire season.  The team vastly needs depth and additional talent to bolster the run stopping part of the franchise (that was ranked 30th overall).

However, many talent evaluators had Hughes going much later, some even project the tackle to not be drafted at all.  Again, I’ll give Heckert the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he’s doing; it just is surprising the team took a projected backup in the third round.  I hope Hughes comes in and can take many snaps away from the other starters; if he can help against the run then the pick will not be as dreadful as some have declared it.  Time will obviously tell though.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in NFL Draft

 

Final Thought – #22 Pick

Final Decision – picks #4 and #22:  Handicapping who the Browns will select on Thursday

Pick #22 – Likely Candidates:  Mike Adams, David Decastro, Cordy Glenn, Stephen Hill, Jonathan Martin, Nick Perry, Kendall Wright, or Trade (either up or down)

This selection is must harder to speculate about, as it is dependent on what the many teams do before the Browns’ second pick.  Throw in the possibility of Tom Heckert trading up to select a player they have their eye on, or trading down to secure additional picks and speculation will be very difficult.

However, looking at the prospects I hope the Browns continue to select athletes who can make an impact on the scoreboard.  They have another chance to further improve their team with a talented prospect whom other franchises will have to game plan for.  Again, looking at past drafts, the Browns have selected solid, impactful guys (late in the first round) who may not win the game single-handedly but will be an important part of each gameplan.

I believe the team can find dependable players in the mid to later rounds, while choosing athletes who can frustrate and upset the opposition as a member of the Cleveland Browns.  Therefore, while being tremendous prospects, I would continue to shy away from any lineman (offensive and defensive) with the twenty-second pick.  That leaves only two likely options at the pick – Kendall Wright and Stephen Hill. Seeing that Heckert’s only real free agent push for offensive players were for Mario Manningham and Josh Morgan, (both wide receivers) the team will likely continue to seek similar players for the offense.

Looking at Tom Heckert’s history, (as then-general manager) the Philadelphia Eagles took Jeremy Maclin at the 19th position in 2009 and Desean Jackson in the second round (49th selection) in the 2008 draft.  Both of these playmakers are wide receivers whom have helped their offense extremely.  Thus, the Browns front office seems open to drafting this position group early if they are available and can help the team.  With likely Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd (the two highest-rated wide receivers) off the board, Cleveland can possibly choose the third or fourth best target for the passing game.

I feel Kendall Wright should be the Browns’ selection at number twenty-two.  He is an extremely fast and talented athlete who gives the offense a different receiving option other than Greg Little.  Although he is not the largest receiver – being the similar size, as Desean Jackson, should give fans hope that the team would still select him (from Heckert’s history).  The issue becomes whether Wright would be available at the position; should someone take the receiver from Baylor earlier, I would hope the Browns still go with wide receiver and take Stephen Hill.

Watching film of him play, one has to get excited from the types of plays he makes.  Hill’s stats are not as impressive as Wright’s; however, his offensive system (primarily running) lends itself to low receiving numbers.  Being a gigantic and quick player would be enticing for the Browns to choose.

Should both players be selected before the Browns’ second selection, I could see the front office making a trade down for more picks.  (This, of course, is dependent on whether Michael Floyd falls and is available in the mid-teens; that is the most likely scenario I feel where the Browns trade up for the former Notre Dame receiver).  I do not believe Mike Adams (or most offensive lineman outside of Glenn) is worth a first round selection, and a very good right tackle can be selected in the second round or later.  That is where the team can choose several reliable starters who may not be flashy but can definitely improve the team.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in NFL Draft

 

Final Thought – #4 Pick

Final Decision – picks #4 and #22:  Handicapping who the Browns will select on Thursday

Pick #4 – Likely Candidates:  Justin Blackmon, Morris Claiborne, Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, Ryan Tannehill, or Trade down

This area has become the center of attention not only around northeast Ohio, but national outlets have been discussing and debating over whom the fourth pick will be.  Fortunately there has been many different signals given off by the Browns front office, and no one is certain which athlete will be chosen.  There might also be an opportunity to trade with another franchise and pick up additional picks.

I truly hope the Browns select a playmaker that can impact the team right now with their top five choice; past history reveals this has not been the case.  Since choosing Braylon Edwards in 2005 (at the third selection), the Browns took offensive tackle Joe Thomas in 2007, traded down multiple times and took center Alex Mack in 2009, drafted cornerback Joe Haden in 2010, and traded down and took Phil Taylor in 2011.  While Haden has been one of the better cornerbacks in the league, none of the picks taken in the first round are considered playmakers that can give a face to the franchise.  This trend needs to cease in 2012; the Browns need an outstanding player that can give a much-needed face-lift to the team.  Given the offensive troubles in 2011, a player who can directly put points on the board would be a great starting point for the 2012 NFL Draft.

Therefore, this would eliminate Kalil and Tannehill from my personal wish list at this spot.  The remaining three players – Richardson, Claiborne, and Blackmon would instantly make the team better.  However, Claiborne has little to no impact on the potential offensive improvement in the upcoming season.  Both a dynamic running back and wide receiver are needed for an offense to become great over time.  Looking at the candidates and realizing the team can still choose relatively strong wide receivers later in the draft, I feel the team should select Trent Richardson at the fourth pick.  I feel the team is down to Richardson and Claiborne – Trent slightly edges out the cornerback.  However, nothing will be set in stone until April 26th.

Reviewing Tom Heckert’s draft philosophy, he looks for value and best player available.  This speaks more towards him leaning towards Morris Claiborne; the cornerback is extremely versatile and one of (if not the best) athlete in the draft.  Also, he will likely have a longer career than Richardson, as running backs – after taking hard hits over several years – retire earlier than other positions.  There will be backlash likely from fans and media if a defensive player is taken, but this regime has shown they do not succumb to pressure from others (outside of management).  I believe Heckert’s number one goal is to trade back a few selections (two to four later) and still get Claiborne.  However, he knows the best way to keep his boss happy is to have a more complete team in order to compete on a weekly basis.

I believe has to modify his draft process and take the running back from Alabama.  He can improve the team by being a tremendous runner, catcher, and blocker.  He’s smart, tough, and has an overall good character on and off the field; all the qualities the team needed in a top pick.  Having said that, I have a sneaking suspicion that we could see Morris Claiborne (which I would support) holding up a Cleveland Browns jersey on Thursday.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in NFL Draft

 

CBA and its Affect on the Draft

How the New CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) Affects Draft Picks:

1 – End of the Holdouts

This was one of the more significant impacts of the agreement between the players’ union and ownership last July.  A rookie wage scale was implemented to prevent enormous contracts given to players who have yet to play a down.  Given inflation and salary history, the top draft picks’ first contact would have continued to increase (for the most part) every year.  Fortunately the NFL was able give teams the luxury of spending more of their salary on proven veterans instead of these rookies.

The result of this is a reduction of stress and potential headaches for both NFL franchises and fans alike.  With the early draft picks now receiving slotted amounts in regards to their salary (i.e. the 2012 third pick will be paid more than the fourth and less than the second and similar to the 2011 and 2013 third pick), their negotiation power will be lessened.  Agents will no longer be able to flex their bargaining muscles by telling teams, especially poor ones, how imperative their client needs to be in camp (on time) in order to improve the franchise exponentially.

2 – Trades a plenty

Taking the new salary implications into account, the ability for teams to trade up or down (especially early in the draft) increases dramatically.  2011 was the first draft where teams were no longer on the hook for the inflated income of top draft picks.  Therefore, franchises with recent success would now be more willing to forgo some of their selections in order to grab a player earlier. One example is this, includes the Browns in 2011 – when the Atlanta Falcons traded five draft picks (three in 2011 and two in 2012) to move up 21 spots to select Julio Jones.

One could argue while reviewing rounds two through five, the number of overall trades from the past year is consistent, if not fewer, from previous NFL drafts (54 in 2011, 64 in 2010, 53 in 2009).  However, I believe the lockout during last offseason had much to do with this low statistic.

In late April, teams were alienated – coaches, front offices, and management could not confer with players in any regard.  Typically NFL teams have voluntary camps a week before the draft, where the staff can further evaluate players to confirm the team’s needs as well as determining who could be trading chips during the impending draft.  This follows several months of scouting, traveling, and watching hours of film in order to decide how best to improve the team for years to come.  The fact that despite this period never occurring last season, and there were still more trades than in 2009 is pretty remarkable; prepare for more wheeling and dealing next week.

3 – Selecting Players with More Risk Early

The final large adaptation in a general managers’ thought process appears to be that it’s acceptable to be more aggressive early.  This refers to the idea of selecting players; while some may be more risky than others, they could have a larger upside (and payout) in the future.  Therefore, teams that have historically chose “safer guys” (like offensive and defensive lineman) could now lean more towards quarterback (or running backs or wide receivers).

This would help explain the run on quarterbacks in 2011 and the possible run in 2012.  Entering the NFL draft last year, the only highly regarded signal caller available was Cam Newton; the others had flaws here and there, according to experts.  However, this did not deter teams from selecting these players early anyways; Jake Locker (8th selection), Blaine Gabbert (10th selection), and Christian Ponder (12th selection) were the beneficiaries of teams needing perceived franchise quarterbacks.  This was the most quarterbacks taken this early in the draft since 1999.  With the new CBA rules, expect similar trends.

Entering the NFL draft this year, everyone (for all intents and purposes) knows that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be selected first and second overall.  Couple that with the fact that Ryan Tannehill has been soaring from a second round pick to now a possible top ten choice, one can see signal callers will once again be in demand for teams needing them.  Once these players go off the board early, expect other quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden, Nick Foles, Brock Osweiler, and Kirk Cousins to be “overdrafted” as well – this refers to a player being selected sooner than they project to be.

Conclusion

Therefore, while watching the anticipated 2012 draft, keep a few things in mind when forming your expectations.  Do not be surprised to hear Roger Goodell announce, “there has been a trade” at the podium, especially multiple times.  Also, teams might buck conventional thinking of draft “experts” and reach for athletes with perceived “higher ceilings” in the first couple of rounds; those skilled positional players can stabilize franchises for several years – should they pan out.   If they do not end up meeting expectations, the franchise will not be in as much financial trouble as in years past.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in NFL Draft

 

#4 Draft Pick – The Case For and Against Morris Claiborne

In the finale of looking at potential draft selections at number four (for the Cleveland Browns) the last is the cornerback from Louisiana State, Morris Claiborne.

(I’ve omitted Matt Kalil because I do not see him dropping to number four and if he does I cannot see the team selecting a right tackle that early.  I chose to ignore Ryan Tannehill because I will have an aneurism if they choose him with the fourth pick).

The Case For (and Against) Morris Claiborne:

For:

Many scouts regard Claiborne as the most (or second most) talented athlete in the draft.  With Robert Griffin III off the board (at that point), the Browns will have an option to take the defensive stalwart with the fourth selection.  This falls in line with general manager Tom Heckert’s philosophy of taking the best player available, regardless of position.  (Being a multi-sport athlete in high school, including a sprinting champion only drives home the point).

Like Richardson, Morris played in the Southeast Conference against some of the fastest and strongest wide receivers at the NCAA level.  The result was six interceptions (one for a touchdown) and 11 passes defended, which was fourth in the conference, along with a kickoff return for a touchdown on special teams.  Being extremely versatile is one way to earn a long career in the NFL.  It also is one of the several reasons why NFL personnel are labeling him as “the safest pick in the draft” as he will likely have the best chance sustain success.

Watching him play, I notice and admire his physical type of play.  Morris is not afraid of contact and will figure in his new team’s run support.  Additionally, he will jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and could cause problems for opposing receivers.  His passion on the field also stands out; you can see the excitement after big plays through his celebrations.  This type of attitude could give the Browns’ defense an element of swagger not seen over the past few seasons.

In addition to his stellar on the field play, Claiborne showed he warrants a top draft choice during his pro day.  He ran a sub 4.4 40-yard dash, which is exceptionally fast for an NFL player; he is strong, fast, and instinctual – something needed in the cornerback position.  The pairing of Morris along with incumbent Joe Haden would give the Cleveland Browns one of the league’s best defensive backfields for a long time.

Against:

Much like Trent Richardson, Morris will begin 2012 coming off surgery – the cornerback needed his wrist repaired.  This could cause teams to steer away from him, however others may dismiss the ligament tear as not as serious as others (i.e. a leg injury).  Fortunately for the draft pick, he does not need full use of his hands as much of his legs on every play – hypothetically he could play with a cast and still be effective.

It has been well publicized that the Wonderlic test was not kind to Claiborne during the 2012 Scouting Combine.  His score of four (out of a possible 50) was one of the lowest ever by a person taking the exam.  A possible explanation for this score could be that he has a learning disability, which makes him a bad test taker and causes underperformance.  This is likely the easier situation to manage should the Browns draft him.  That would just imply that the team would have to find the best way to teach him the necessary football skills, techniques, plays, etc. so he can pick them up easily and transfer them to his repertoire.

The second reason for the poor outcome on the exam could be that Morris did not give much effort and just looked to complete it.  Although this period lasted only 12 minutes, it could speak negatively about his work ethic and character.  If the cornerback is not willing to put in the time and effort for something as menial as a quick standardized test, one can wonder how he will respond with more difficult tasks (including ones where he has to study and learn).  The major counterpoint against giving Claiborne’s wonderlic credence would lie in his position.  Unlike quarterback or offensive line, cornerback is a spot where players do not need to remember mass quantities of information and instead go off of feel, tendencies, and physical ability.

In 2011, the Cleveland Browns offense was much more dire than their defensive counterparts.  Therefore, many fans and experts alike feel the team should center around bringing in talented players on the offensive side of the ball (especially in the earlier rounds).  Selecting Claiborne, while giving the team a playmaker, causes the franchise to miss out on one of the most dynamic players that can do something that the team had trouble doing last season – score touchdowns.

Conclusion:

There’s little room to argue that Morris Claiborne is an excellent football player and will be a very good member in NFL.  The tricky part for the Browns is deciding whether to select him at number four.  The fanbase (and front office) wants the team to turn the corner and win more football games, beginning in 2012.  With the large league-wide offensive outputs in 2011, and the rules tailored to them, the Browns should follow this trend and address the side of the ball where points must be scored.  With 13 draft selections to play with, that will definitely occur – it’s just a matter of when.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in NFL Draft

 

#4 Draft Pick – The Case For and Against Justin Blackmon

Continuing the series of looking at potential draft selections at number four for the Cleveland Browns, the next option is the wide receiver from Oklahoma State, Justin Blackmon

The Case For (and Against) Justin Blackmon:

For:  There are several reasons why the Browns should select the playmaker with their first pick.

First, let’s take a look at the Browns 2011 season offensive (and it was very offense) output.  They only scored 218 points in total or just over 13 points per game.  Unless you have the 1985 Chicago Bears’ or the 2000 Baltimore Ravens’ defense, it’s going to be difficult to win games that way.  The team as a whole had 16 passing touchdowns – nine of those came from four different wide receivers.  That is unacceptable for a NFL team, regardless of who the quarterback is; the Browns must find someone who can get into the endzone on a consistent basis.  Justin Blackmon would be a great option, as he scored 38 touchdowns in past two collegiate seasons.

Watching film of Blackmon play, one can get very giddy at the possibility of him being a member of the Cleveland Browns.  He can catch passes in tight spaces and has the quickness to elude defenders after the catch.  It seemed, at times, the entire stadium knew where the ball was going to go, and Justin still caught it and made a huge play.  On the largest stage (Fiesta Bowl) Blackmon came away with eight receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

Looking at the NFL now, teams are scoring and gaining most of their yardage through the air – thus proving that teams need more than one exceptional receiving option.  After drafting Greg Little in the 2011 draft, many experts believe the team still needs a viable wideout that defenses must game plan for.  Having Blackmon would open up the offense and give the quarterback more targets during each game.  Additionally, early success can lead to double-teams which could lead to large stats for Little or other Browns receivers.

Being rated high on most scouting lists, it’s easy to see that Justin has the potential to compete and be effective in the NFL.  At his pro day, his vertical distance (35 inches) and broad jumps (10 feet four inches) stood out as he impressed onlookers.  These are two traits are needed for receivers to be successful in the league, as they will have to fight defenders for the ball on a regular basis.  Having the measurable qualities gives him a leg up on his competition.

Against:

The talented wide receiver has a character issue that is a little more apparent than some of other top draft prospects.  In 2010, Blackmon had a DUI and was suspended for a game. Some front offices may see this as a maturity issue that could lead to disruptions in the locker room.  While interviewing with teams, Blackmon will be scrutinized heavily in order to prove he learned from his mistake and is willing to move on.

At six feet one inch, there have been some concerns about whether the Oklahoma State product is large enough to be a premier wide receiver in the NFL (even with his ability to get vertical at any point).  Early in the draft, teams usually look for wide receivers whom are two to three inches taller. The other side of the equation is speed; franchises who take shorter receivers typically select extremely fast ones.  While being speedy after the catch, Blackmon is not considered marginally faster than most defenders while running longer distances.

Another thing that could hurt Blackmon’s stock is his role in an offense.  Wide receiver is definitely an important position in the National Football League.  However, successful teams have many outlets – one player may not dominate the offense like a defensive end would control a team’s pass rushing.  Therefore, while Justin would still be an excellent pick, he may not be as valuable at such an early selection.

Finally, in addition to the several quality receivers in the 2012 Draft, there is a belief by some that Michael Floyd is actually the best NFL prospect.  This is not the case when looking at the other top candidates; all are considered to be vastly superior than others in the same position group.  Teams could consider this when determining their draft pick’s value and whom to choose.

Conclusion:

Blackmon was my favorite player to watch in college football in the 2011 season.  He’s strong, flashy, and could score on any play.  If the Browns draft him, I would be excited for the possibility of the offense improving greatly in the 2012 season.  I am not certain the team’s front office values wide receivers that early (Heckert did draft Jeremy Maclin in the late first round and DeSean Jackson in the second, however).  Nonetheless, he is definitely in the conversation at the fourth selection for the Cleveland Browns.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in NFL Draft

 

#4 Draft Pick – The Case For and Against Trent Richardson

The NFL Draft is just over three weeks away and many names have been thrown around regarding who the Cleveland Browns should take with their #4 pick.  Over that time, I’ll give you a few reasons why and why not the franchise should select a given player.  First up is Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

The Case For (and Against) Trent Richardson:

For:  There are several reasons why the Browns should select the Alabama running back with their first pick.  First let’s take a look at his Junior year stats:

Season – 2011:

Attempts – 283; Rushing Yards – 1,679; Average – 5.90 YPC (yards per carry); Touchdowns – 21

Receptions – 29; Receiving Yards – 338; Average – 11.70 YPR (yards per reception); Touchdowns – 3

These are incredible numbers especially when realizing that Trent faced arguably the best conference (Southeastern Conference) in college football, which is perennially loaded with NFL talent.  In 2011, Alabama won their second national championship in three years.  Leading the way, Richardson not only gained a great amount of yardage and touchdowns on the ground, but he compiled a fair amount of receiving statistics.  This will be important in the West Coast offense, which the Browns use.

Next, one has to look at what he brings to the table.  From his pro day, he came in at 5’9” and 227 pounds – great size for a running back.  We also know he can bench 475 pounds (and was advised not to go heavier by his coaches).  His 40-yard dash time was in the 4.45 range (depending on who was timing).  From the “eye test” Richardson is a bona-fide NFL star on physical traits.

Looking at his character, which has been scrutinized by many different scouting personnel from February thru April, one sees it as overwhelmingly positive.  He has been known to have a terrific work ethic and has kept himself out of trouble’s way (which is something very important to a many NFL franchises).

Finally, someone has to fill the duty of Cleveland Browns running back after the departure of Peyton Hillis.  Who else better to accomplish that than the guy whom many feel “is the most complete back since Adrian Peterson”.  The Browns have not drafted a playmaker like him in the first round since 2002, and have as a result struggled to find a consistent rusher ever since.  Using the fourth pick on the talented running back could potentially shore up the position for several seasons.

Against:

There is a question of how durable Trent is as a football player.  Following the 2011 season, Richardson underwent surgery to injuries sustained on his knee.  Browns fans could feel troubled by this, as he will face faster and stronger competition in the NFL; therefore his body will go through more contact and there will always be a possibility of him getting hurt (and missing time) on any given play.

Some people believe that the National Football League has morphed into a passing league over the past few seasons; this is supported by the fact there were three quarterbacks with over 5,000 yards passing and three with over 40 touchdowns in 2011 alone (neither of these things occurred at all in 2009 and 2010).

Therefore, the running back position appears to be not as valuable as it once was.  People could see the fourth selection as one where the team needs to choose a dynamic player who will get ample opportunities to contribute; a running back may not fall into that category. Along these lines is the fact that a majority of teams nowadays use multiple players to carry the football for their respective team.  In 2011, only fifteen players rushed over 1,000 yards, which represents the fewest number of players (in this category) over the past ten seasons.

Finally, this year’s draft is one that contains several solid NFL-caliber running backs. Teams may feel inclined to select one of these players later while filling other needs earlier in the draft (and consequently again devaluating the position).  General managers may feel the drop-off in talent from Richardson to the next best running back may be worth taking another player who may be extremely better than the remainder in his position group.

Conclusion:

There are compelling and strong points to both sides of the argument regarding drafting Trent Richardson at the fourth spot.  Personally, I think he is a rare talent and would vastly improve the running game while providing a safety valve and strong blocker in passing situations.  I’ll speculate later of what the team will do, but Richardson seems to be one of the front-runners for the Browns.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in NFL Draft