Trent Richardson Scout

Running Back

Alabama

5-9 228

Draft board overall prospect rank: #4

Draft board overall running back rank: #1

Overall rating: 92 (Top 10 pick)

40 time: 4.49

Games watched: Alabama/FloridaAlabama/VanderbiltAlabama/TennesseeLSU/AlabamaAlabama/Auburn, Alabama/LSU (Part 2) 

Positives

·         Incredible power

·         Incredible burst through the whole

·         Almost always breaks at least one tackle per run

·         Runs with great pad level

·         Rarely tackled for loss

·         Patient

·         Great vision

·         Uses his blocks well

·         Shifty

·         Prolific inside runner who can also run outside

·         Terrific athlete

·         Built like a bowling ball

·         Great size speed combination (5-9 228 4.49)

·         Very impressive 2011 season (283 carries for 1679 yards and 21 touchdowns)

·         Deadly in the red zone and short yardage situations

·         Excelled against great defenses in the SEC

·         Excelled against stacked boxes

·         Legitimate 3 down back with great hands (29 catches in 2011)

·         Relatively little tread on the tires (540 carries)

·         Heavily recruited

·         Well coached

·         High motor player who refuses to go down

Negatives

·         Plays a position that has been devalued in the NFL

·         Plays a position with a short shelf life

·         Plays a deep position (you can find quality rotation backs in the mid to late rounds)

·         Some injury history

·         A bit raw in pass protection

·         Doesn’t have elite breakaway speed (only had runs longer than 34 yards 3 in of 13 games in 2011)

NFL Comparison: Adrian Peterson

Trent Richardson is the cleanest running back prospect since Adrian Peterson and figures to join Reggie Bush, Peterson, Darren McFadden, and CJ Spiller as running backs to be drafted in the top 10 since 2006. Other running backs drafted in the top 12, Ryan Mathews, Marshawn Lynch, and Knowshon Moreno, had disappointing careers with the team that drafted them, though Lynch turned it around after being traded to Seattle and the jury is still out on Mathews.

Of those 7, he’s definitely most similar to Peterson. It’s also a good sign that the other 3 backs drafted in the top 10 were more speed backs than power backs. None have lived up to their draft slot. Peterson had some minor injury concerns and that dropped him to 7 when most had a top-3 grade on him. Richardson is in a similar situation after a “minor” knee scope. With running backs, there’s no such thing as a minor knee scope.

Also working against him is his position. Running backs have a relatively short shelf life (you’re lucky if you can get 6-7 years out of them), are being devalued in a pass heavy league, and come a dime a dozen (you can always find solid rotational backs in the mid to late rounds). Richardson is probably the 2nd cleanest prospect in this draft class after Andrew Luck, but he almost definitely won’t go in the top 3.

His range starts at 4 to Cleveland. Tampa Bay at 5 will have interest, as will St. Louis at 6 and if he falls past St. Louis, he’ll probably need someone to trade up to go in the top 10 as Jacksonville, Miami, Carolina, and Buffalo all have much bigger needs. Cincinnati, the Jets, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Denver could all be candidates to trade up if he’s still available at 9 or 10. I can’t see Kansas City at 11 passing on him, even after signing Peyton Hillis, however, so that’s his floor.

He’s such a talented player who has everything you look for in a running back. He’s an amazing in between the tackles runner, with great pad level, burst, speed, shiftiness and amazing power, especially in short yardage situations. He can also run outside the tackles as well, despite a lack of elite speed and he breaks tackles no matter where on the field he is.

He’s also a solid pass catcher who can stay in on 3rd downs. He had a phenomenal junior season in 2011 for “National Champion” Alabama and was a legitimate Heisman candidate in a stacked Heisman year, rushing for 1679 yards and 21 touchdowns on 283 carries. He did this in easily the best defensive conference in the country, and had 89 yards and 96 yards in their two matchups with LSU, who allowed 2.7 yards per carry, good for 3rd best in the league.

He’s also relatively fresh because he spent his first two seasons as a backup for Mark Ingram. He only has 540 collegiate carries, which is important because of how fast running backs can become washed up and injured in the NFL. Still, he’s no lock to have a healthy and full NFL career and a recent minor knee scope is always troubling, even if it is “minor.” Adrian Peterson battled the same concerns. He persevered until a major knee injury last season, but Richardson might not have the same fat. At the same time, he could be in the Hall of Fame when all is said and done.

His only flaws are that he’s somewhat raw in pass protection (what college back isn’t?) and that he doesn’t have elite breakaway speed. Other than that, he’s a perfect prospect, but the nature of his position makes it impossible for him to be a top-3 pick, especially after having a “minor” knee scope. However, I’m giving him a legitimate top-10 grade and making him the 4th ranked player on my Big Board, which is incredibly rare for me because I don’t value the running back position very much at all. 

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