In what comes as a surprise to absolutely no one, Alabama running back Trent Richardson has declared himself eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft. The junior rushed for 1,679 yards with 21 touchdowns in 2011, and finished third in the Heisman voting. He also won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.
Now that it’s official, Richardson is considered the top running back prospect in the draft and is projected to be a top-ten pick. He’s also a great option for the Cleveland Browns, who hold the fourth overall pick.
The crux to the Richardson-to-Cleveland scenario that makes the most sense involves Peyton Hillis. If the Browns let him walk in free agency, drafting Richardson almost becomes a necessity. It’s a risk to take a running back that early, but the Browns can’t afford to go into the 2012 season with Montario Hardesty as their starting back.
One could certainly argue for drafting Richardson even if Hillis is re-signed, as the health of seemingly every running back on the Browns’ roster is up in the air on a weekly basis.
Either way, Richardson should be considered a top prospect for the Browns. He is a strong back who knows how to block and, despite the overwhelming need for wide receivers, the team cannot ignore the potential problem at running back should Hillis not return or get injured (again).