Josh Freeman

Running Low On Running Backs

March 26, 2012 at 02:26pm by Scott   •  10 Comments »

Had to get my orange in there somewhere.
Speaking of positions of need, with Kregg Lumpkin‘s move to the Seahawks, the Bucs have exactly one running back on the roster under contract, Mossis Madu. I suppose Erik Lorig counts as one too since he’s technically a fullback, but he’s not going to carry the ball. LeGarrette Blount is an exclusive-rights free agent so he can’t negotiate with other teams, but he also has no contract and can choose to sit out of any portion of minicamps or training camp or whatever he wants. It wouldn’t be a smart move on his part and he really has very little leverage, but sometimes what’s “smart” doesn’t matter so much.

So this begs the obvious question of whether or not the Bucs should use their #5 overall pick for Trent Richardson (Alabama), assuming Cleveland doesn’t use their #4 pick on him (which would be bullshit since Montario Hardesty is an awesome back that just needs to not be injured). And let’s not rehash the tired old arguments of whether you can get a good running back later in the draft. Of course you can. You can get a good player at any position later in the draft. There are examples at every position of excellent late-rounders and undrafted free agents that went on to have great careers. But the chances aren’t that great. The point of the draft is that the higher up you are, the greater the chance that you get one of those awesome players. And let’s also put the brakes on running back being an “undervalued” position. I don’t see too many teams going with an empty set in the backfield, and if there’s a guy back there, he needs to be good regardless of what he’s doing. Can you have any old schmuck back there if all he’s doing is picking up blitzes? Of course not. You need the right, high-quality player regardless of what the position is.

Having said all that, is Richardson good enough to justify picking him at #5? In one year of being the full-time starter, Richardson ran for 1,679 yards on 283 rushes (5.9 YPC) and 21 touchdowns. He also caught 29 balls for another 338 yards (11.7 YPR) and 3 touchdowns. The Crimson Tide played the #1 ranked team twice last season including the BCSNC and played a total of five game against ranked teams. It wasn’t the easy schedule people have made it out to be. And Alabama ended the season 16th (out of 120) in rushing offense, due mostly to Richardson. This is a guy who can get the job done.

Is he Adrian Peterson like some people are saying? I don’t know. But a lot of draft analysts didn’t know Adrian Peterson was Adrian Peterson when he was in the draft. Based strictly on watching him play for the last three years, my opinion is that he is worth taking the chance on with the #5 overall pick. I don’t necessarily think it’s the best move for the Bucs because I think that Blount can be an every down back with the right coaching. Blount is capable of pounding the ball up the middle, breaking it out on the outside, breaking tackles and turning five yards into 30 right now. He needs coaching to be a better pass-catcher and pass-blocker, but it’s not like he’s incapable of learning it. It’s frustrating to see analysts dogging players because they’re not perfect at their jobs after their first season. The pick would be better spent on Morris Claiborne (LSU) at corner or even Matt Kalil (Southern Cal) to solidify the right side of the line and spending a lower-round pick on a shiftier, speed back like LaMichael James (Oregon) or Chris Rainey (Florida). Of course, if the Bucs take Richardson, I wouldn’t bitch. He’d be a great asset to the team. But there are so many needs in Tampa, I’d hate to spend such a valuable pick on an area where I think the Bucs are okay.

10 Comments to “Running Low On Running Backs”


jampersands (March 26, 2012 at 03:07pm:

I like Richardson too, but at this point he kind of feels like a luxury. We have a solid RB, we don’t have any linebackers, and if Talib is suspended our need at corner is almost as great.

Moreover, unless we signed paraplegic Bob Sanders without my knowledge, we have a serious need at safety as well.

I just don’t see how we can afford to pick Richardson with so many enormous needs on defense. I’d like him, and I think he’d make Freeman better. But we won’t win football games without someone who can defend a pass.


jampersands (March 26, 2012 at 03:09pm:

Also, I like Rainey in round 3 or 4. Didn’t he break the combine record in the three cone drill? If that doesn’t qualify him a talented, shifty scatback, I don’t know what does.


Darren47 (March 26, 2012 at 03:45pm:

I agree, Richardson seems awesome, but the #5 picks seems a little steep to use on a running back when we already have a pretty solid guy in the back field. That said, the Bucs NEED to get a more complete back to complement Blount because we all remember how the offense sputtered horribly as soon as Graham went down in London, which probably contributed heavily to the 10 straight losses. I hope they’ll spend one of their first three picks on a RB, but not the absolute first.


forthntwint (March 26, 2012 at 05:21pm:

Well thought it was going to be Richardson all along but with Aqib’s trial being pushed back to June. Who the hell knows?


manbearpig (March 26, 2012 at 05:55pm:

I feel like the Bucs need a shifty, quick, change of pace back to compliment Blount. Claiborne first round and that quick, small back from Oregon second round. All I need is hair gel and I can do Mel’s job….

worker b

worker b (March 26, 2012 at 08:10pm:

If Claiborn is gone when the Bucs pick, and Richardson can help the Bucs control the ball on the ground, he might do as much to help the defense as any defender available on the board. I think they’d have to take him just because there seems to be such a drop-off after pick five or six.


FireThemCannons (March 26, 2012 at 11:17pm:

I want Richardson so bad…Then we take Alfonzo Dennard in round 2….(Side Note: I’ve been calling for Dennard to the bucs since somewhere around game 3) Just the thought of leaving Adrian Peterson sitting there again….Don’t do it buccos


Bricen (March 26, 2012 at 11:31pm:

Someone will surely want to trade up infront of STL for blackmon, soid combine and great pro day. Richardson would totally make the offense better, but we need defense and defensive depth to make the TEAM better. I wouldnt be surprised if we only took one offensive player in the draft usch as david wilson in the second or LMJ in the third. (I do like Claiborne if the browns don’t take him.)

Mark S

Mark S (March 27, 2012 at 09:30am:

Used to be you could not have enough high quality running backs, now its more cornerbacks. I still want Claiborne. Our secondary and Linebackers are number one priority and Clairborne is a best pick and fits our need. Picking Richardson seems like a smack in the face to LeGarrett that he does not deserve or need. Of course if he would sign before the draft, that would solidify my opinion. As for depth at RB, there are still some free agents out there, and there will be more after the draft.

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