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2015 NFL DRAFT

Richardson among Tide prospects to work out for NFL heavyweights

The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- In the pass-happy NFL, running backs aren't as attractive as first-round draft picks as they used to be. Trent Richardson knows the score.

"That motivates me a lot," the former Alabama star said Thursday after performing in the school's second Pro Day of the month. "There hasn't been a Top 10 running back since Adrian Peterson (actually, C.J. Spiller of Clemson went ninth overall in 2010). I want to set the bar high and put us back on the map and show them that we're very, very rare and that we need to be in the Top 5, Top 10. We need to be up there high."

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Richardson, NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked running back and No. 5 prospect, probably won't have to wait long to hear his name called next month in the NFL draft.

"A lot of teams try to beat up on us a lot of times," the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist said of running backs. "When it comes down to it, I think they're going to need us early in our career and we're going to try to make it to our second contract and try to do stuff with it."

The number of representatives from NFL teams was similar to the number that showed up on March 7, but no head coaches or general managers attended that first pro day. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur were present, along with four general managers: Trent Baalke with the San Francisco 49ers, Martin Mayhew with the Detroit Lions, Ruston Webster with the Tennessee Titans and Kevin Colbert with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Richardson, who plowed right through Browns RB coach Gary Brown in a blocked drill Thursday, was invited to the combine but did not participate in workouts in Indianapolis because of minor knee surgery that he had after the Jan. 9 BCS Championship Game.

He also did not participate in Alabama's first pro day on March 7. Neither did two former teammates who also are expected to be first-round picks next month: outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw and safety Mark Barron.

Barron still is recovering from postseason double hernia surgery and said he is 80 to 90 percent healthy. Upshaw had been plagued by tendinitis in a knee.

Richardson unofficially was timed in the 40-yard dash in the 4.47- to 4.52-second range at 227 pounds. Barron's times reportedly were in the 4.50- to 4.57-second range. Upshaw was timed in the 4.73- to 4.76-second range.

Upshaw was disappointed in the fact that he weighed in at 279 pounds. He had hoped to weigh between 265 and 268 pounds, but teams that might consider him as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense probably were not turned off. However, one scout in attendance said his drops into coverage weren't markedly improved from position drills at the combine.

Richardson was known for his strength in the weight room during his three-year Alabama career, but he seemed disappointed in the fact that he managed only 25 lifts of 225 pounds on the bench press.

Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked if Richardson appeared healthy.

"Looks good to me," he said. "I think he's probably the best running back in the draft this year. Probably one of the best players in the draft. I think that's based on his performance and his production and his consistency he's played with. The personal characteristics he has in terms of psychological disposition to be successful, which is really A-plus."

Saban acknowledged that running backs don't go as high in the draft as they used to, and he should know. Alabama Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was the first runner drafted in 2011, and he went 28th to the Saints.

"But ... with the salary cap changes in the rookie pool, you're not investing as much in a guy as you used to," he said. "You better take somebody that you know is going to be a good player on your team and be a good fit for you and be a starter and be somebody that's going to be a good player for a long time."

Many other Alabama players, including cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, another first-round prospect, were involved in the indoor workout. He did not run the 40-yard dash but participated in some of the other drills. Others who performed included cornerbacks DeQuan Menzie and Phelon Jones, outside linebackers Jerrell Harris and Alex Watkins, wide receivers Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks, tight end Brad Smelley and offensive linemen William Vlachos, Alfred McCullough and John Michael Boswell.

Saban and Belichick are close friends and former colleagues. They did not go out to dinner together Wednesday night.

"You don't know Belichick very well," Saban said. "What you do when he comes to town you go in the meeting room and you order the stuff in and you eat while the film's going. That's what we did."

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