04/30/2012 - Running back Trent Richardson, taken third, is the fifth running back drafted by the Browns in the top 10. They drafted Jim Brown sixth in 1957, Mike Pruitt seventh in 1977, Greg Allen seventh in 1985 and Tommy Vardell ninth in 1992. - The Sports Xchange
Richardson doesn't have world class speed, much the same as Emmitt Smith didn't have world class speed, and the comparison is apt.
So forget the so-called controversy about his speed, which was quantified with 40-yard times of between 4.45 and 4.61 seconds at his pro day (Smith's 40 time was 4.8 seconds). Richardson explodes into and through defenders with sudden power. He is wide, low and runs with patience and control while looking for a lane.
But if there isn't daylight, he is willing and able to create it by initiating contact in a manner reminiscent of a short, stout Adrian Petersen.
Richardson is a better pro prospect than former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram (No. 28 pick in 2011 draft by New Orleans Saints), whose job Richardson inherited at Alabama. Last season, Richardson became Alabama's full-time starter for the first time, carried 283 times for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns to break Ingram's single-season school record.
Richardson is an efficient blocker and excellent pass catcher who had another 338 yards and three touchdowns receiving last season. He was the only hint of offense in the BCS Championship game, scoring the lone touchdown, a 34-yarder, in the Tide's 21-0 victory over LSU.
Richardson, who finished third in Heisman Trophy voting, is proud and responsible for two daughters, ages three and five, from a longtime romance in his home town Pensacola, FL.
Inside: Powerful runner well suited to running inside the tackles. Quickly presses the line of scrimmage, attacking the hole when it is there. Shows the patience to allow the hole to develop, however, and has the vision and burst to bounce outside should there be a better opportunity available there. Possesses an exciting combination of acceleration and agility to elude defenders. Seems to relish physical contact, lowering his shoulder into would-be tacklers and running through many of them. Rarely goes down with initial contact, showing a stiff-arm and the leg drive to bowl over defenders. Wraps the ball securely in tight quarters and has only one fumble (LSU, 2010) in 321 career touches (entering 2011 season).
Outside: Significantly faster than his relatively short, thick-frame would lead you to believe. Beats the linebackers to the edge and can plant either foot in the ground and spring forward quickly, showing surprising acceleration. Possesses very good vision for cutback lanes, showing a willingness to cut back against the grain inside or break it outside depending on where he sees the defense leaning. Has the speed to pull away from defenders when he enters the open field. Switches the ball to his outside arm to help protect it as he nears the sideline.
Breaking tackles: Probably Richardson's most impressive trait. Often he is the one initiating the contact rather than the defenders, providing them little to target than his helmet, shoulder and knee pads. Keeps his legs driving through contact and literally runs over some opponents. Features a terrific stiff-arm, as well as a spin move through contact and the ability to leap over defenders attempting to cut his legs out from under him.
Blocking: Physical blocker whose intensity and power make him a potentially lethal weapon in the blocking game. Can be confused by exotic blitzes, sometimes technically picking up the wrong defender, but is willing to lay out to meet his assignment in the hole. Gets low and explodes into the defender, making the emphatic block. Would like to see him remain on his feet and square so as to protect his quarterback (and his own body) longer.
Receiving: Possesses soft, generally reliable hands out of the backfield. Is comfortable catching the ball outside of his frame, extending to pluck it and secure it quickly before worrying about oncoming defenders. Used on a variety of routes in this offense, showing the speed and fluidity to get open on wheel and quick screens, as well as traditional swing passes. Muffed a punt against Duke (2010) on a kickoff return, only to recover it and run 91 yards for a touchdown...
Intangibles: Signed with Alabama as a consensus five-star recruit and rated by some scouting services among the elite prospects at any position in the entire country. Possesses an almost unheard combination of size, strength and speed. Boasts a power clean of 365 pounds, a 600 pound squat and a bench press of 475 pounds. Has reportedly been timed by the Alabama coaching staff in the 4.4s in the 40-yard dash. His work ethic in the weight-room has been characterized as "legendary." Underwent surgery following his sophomore season in high school to repair torn ligaments in his ankle. Has two daughters.
--By Rob Rang