Mel Kiper Jr.’s second mock draft has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting Alabama running back Trent Richardson with the 5th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Kiper states we can’t “simply dismiss the idea that Richardson could land here because of the presence of Legarrette Blount. A great running team now needs more than one good back, and Richardson is by far the best back on the board this year.”
Mel Kiper Jr. is nearly a god in terms of the NFL draft and his prognostications. His opinion deserves top billing but for the Buccaneers sake, they hopefully go against his projected selection. While he is correct on what Richardson can bring to the Buccaneers, he faults in believing Richardson makes the Buccaneers a better team more so than Morris Claiborne. Just because a running back is so highly rated, doesn’t mean he is a lock for production. A look at the current top running backs in the NFL proves my point. Below is a look at their draft selection.
LeSean McCoy: Phi (53rd), Ray Rice: Bal (55th), Frank Gore: SF (65th), Maurice Jones-Drew: Jac (60th), Arian Foster: Hou (UFA), Matt Forte: Chi (44th).
In fact, the only current elite running back in the NFL who was selected in the top ten has been Adrian Peterson. Ask yourself, is Trent Richardson on par with Adrian Peterson? While Richardson is definitely a great running back, the odds are against him being elite or even being a long term option for the Buccaneers at the position. If anything, Legarrette Blount has history on his side more so than Richardson. What Richardson would provide is the best time share candidate the Buccaneers could select. Similar in style, Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints served that role well for them. However, in retrospect, would Ingram justify a #5 overall pick? The answer is no. Also, where Richardson would play a role within a unit, Claiborne would be a instant leader in his unit. Just like Aqib Talib, Claiborne would be immediately thrust into a key role with the secondary AND possibly kick returns. If you are going to use a 5th round pick, the more a player can bring to your team, the better. In contrast to running backs, lets look at the current top corner backs in the NFL and their selection.
Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie: Phi (16th), Patrick Peterson: Ari (5th), Darrell Revis: NYJ (14th), Nnamdi Asomugha: Phi (31st), Champ Bailey: Den (7th), Charles Woodson: GB (4th), Joe Haden: Cle (7th).
Each of the above have warranted their selection while the running backs have warranted higher selections. What this tells us is evaluating corner back talent is far more predictable than evaluation of running back selections. Given the investment the Buccaneers are about to make, there is no doubt they will want to make the most educated decision for their money. Selecting Trent Richardson would not be such a choice. Again, Mel Kiper Jr. is the standard of draft prognostication and he is projecting who he believes the teams will select. He may not agree with the selection but he has sources I could only dream about. Wait….I don’t have any sources. Those sources are sure to play a factor in his mock drafts which lead one to believe Richardson could be on the Buccaneers minds. Hopefully, the Bucs do their research and look at history.