Running Low On Running Backs
March 26, 2012 at 02:26pm by Scott • 10 Comments »
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.