The Case for Trent Richardson

The NFL Draft will take place two weeks from tomorrow.

Thank goodness because the subject of what the Cleveland Browns will do in the first few rounds is just about exhausted. 

Heck, even on the Indians’ home opener, sports talk shows in Cleveland had discussion as to who GM Tom Heckert should take in the selection meeting at the end of the month.

Should they take a running back, or is the #4 pick too early for one?  How about a wide receiver, can Justin Blackmon be the Browns answer to Cincinnati’s A. J. Green?  Is it too much of a reach to take Texas A & M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the fourth pick?

Should the Browns trade down from #4?  Should they trade up from #22?

Soon, it will all be over.

We’ve been tempted by Tannehill, but in the end, what the Browns should do is pick Alabama RB Trent Richardson with the fourth pick in a couple of weeks.  Why?

Because as a running back, he can get more touches on offense than anyone else on the field, save for the guy playing quarterback.  And offense is where Cleveland needs the most help, by far.

OT Matt Kalil would be an intriguing pick if some team trades up to #3 to get Tannehill, probably Miami, but the Browns need playmakers.  A guy who the defense has to account for.

Kalil would strengthen the offensive line and give the team a pair of bookend tackles, but no matter how good a pairing of Joe Thomas and Kalil may be, they can’t put the ball in the end zone by themselves.

Richardson can touch the football 20 times per games on handoffs and another three to five time via short throws.  A productive running back will take a lot of pressure off QB Colt McCoy.

Lest you don’t think it matters, check out these statistics.  Keep in mind, McCoy’s overall passer rating was 74.6 last year, and his average yards per attempt was 5.9 for the season.

Here are the games where the Browns had their best success running the football in 2011:

Jacksonville –148 yards.  McCoy’s passer rating was 92.2 and his average yards per attempt was 8.3
Seattle–141 yards.  McCoy’s rating was 59.0 with 5.1 yards per throw
Cincinnati (2nd game)–134 yards on the ground.  McCoy:  67.2 passer rating, 4.4 yards/attempt
St. Louis–126 yards.  McCoy had 97.5 rating, averaging 8.1 yards/attempt
Indianapolis–106 yards.  Mc Coy:  97.3 rating and 6.6 yards per pass.

The games against the Jaguars, Rams, and Colts were McCoy’s best three games statistically on the year.  And while it is true that he had some clunkers with a running attack, he does have a better chance to play well when backed up with a solid ground game.

The Browns did gain more than 100 yards in two other contests, but those were games started by Seneca Wallace. 

The NFL is a passing league right now, without a doubt.  But if you don’t have an elite quarterback, then you better be able to run the football. 

That’s where Trent Richardson comes in.

If Richardson can be a very good back, not even saying he has to be elite, that will give defensive coordinators around the NFL something to game plan against. 

For most defenses, taking something away involves giving something up.  Perhaps, opponents will have to bring an extra man in the box to take away the run, and that will allow passing lanes for Pat Shurmur’s offense.

Getting Richardson may not make Colt McCoy a top ten passer, in fact, it probably won’t.

However, it will allow him to be better.  And if you aren’t getting Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, or another hot-shot college QB, having an improved McCoy is better than the one who played in 2011.

JD

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