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Even at a devalued position, Richardson’s talent too great to pass up

Alabama's Richardson battles against Auburn's defensive in their NCAA college footballl game in Auburn

Alabama running back Trent Richardson (C) battles for yardage against Auburn linebacker Darren Bates (L) and defensive back Jonathan Mincy (R) in the first half of their NCAA college footballl game in Auburn, Alabama November 26, 2011. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

REUTERS

The NFL’s transformation into a passing league has hit running backs hard, both on draft day (the first running off the board went 28th in last year’s first round) and in free agency (veteran running backs haven’t found much of a market for their services this year). But with the NFL draft a month away, Alabama running back Trent Richardson has so much talent that he appears poised to buck the trend of running backs being devalued.

A couple of weeks ago we passed along comments from NFL Network’s Mike Mayock suggesting that Richardson might slip out of the Top 10 because of the low value so many teams place on running backs. But with more time to study the tape, Mayock now says Richardson is simply too talented for more than five or six teams to pass on him

“Boy was I wrong,” Mayock said of suggesting Richardson might get out of the Top 10. “He’s going in the Top 10. Let’s face it, if the two quarterbacks [Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III] go 1-2, and the Vikings are not in the market for a tailback at No. 3 because of Adrian Peterson, this kid is going 4, 5 or 6. He’s the best tailback I’ve seen come out since the aforementioned Adrian Peterson. He brings toughness, he brings speed, he brings pass protection.”

Mayock said that if the Browns pass on Richardson at No. 4, he can’t see why the Bucs would pass on him at No. 5. Mayock said Richardson running behind the Buccaneers’ offensive line in Greg Schiano’s offense could have a big impact as a rookie.

“Trent Richardson might be the best position player in this draft,” Mayock said. “I watched 150 of his carries today. I watched every catch he made on tape today. . . . I watched every pass protection I could find in about a 10-game span, and he might be the best pass-protecting running back in this draft also. So when you talk about toughness and perhaps the best positional player in the entire draft, I think if he is available at No. 5, with that offensive line, they’ve got to pull the trigger.”

And if the Bucs do pull the trigger, they may find themselves with the most talented player in the draft.