Tampa Bay Buccaneers running backs coach Earnest Byner was among those on hand to work out Alabama standout Trent Richardson today. Richardson finally had his much anticipated pro day after missing the combine and Alabama’s first pro day workout for scouts. The reason for the delay was due to an arthroscopic procedure done on his knee at the end of last season.
As always, 40 times change depending on who is pressing the button. The consensus is he ran as fast as a 4.45 but a majority seems to agree his 4.58 time is closer to accurate. If you are wondering about his health, Richardson had the following quoted by NFL Draft Bible:
In case you are wondering, yes, he played the “I slipped” card.
In case you are wondering, Legarrette Blount ran a 4.59 40 yard dash at his pro day two years ago.
Richardson could just simply be one not to make excuses (though he did) and he could in reality not be at 100 percent. Either way, there should be cause for concern. If he is 100% and he ran that slow, he immediately falls out of top five status and should see himself get drafted later in the round as his ex-teammate Mark Ingram was. If he is not truly at 100% then the questions become if the procedure was more evasive than initially thought and if this could be a long term issue? Regardless of what smoke screens coach Greg Schiano is trying to put up after talking up Richardson yesterday, the bottom line is today hurt Trent Richardson’s value.
Still, there will be supporters of drafting Richardson with the 5th pick in the upcoming draft. Analysts and fans alike have compared him to Adrian Peterson and believe he is the most complete back to come out of college in years. While that may be true, a very large part of Richardson’s game comes from his ability to stop on a dime and acceleration off the ball. Richardson was expected to run in the 4.3’s today, so the results will give some cause for concern.
Bucs current running back Legarrette Blount has seen his value drop despite his talents. Blount has been among the most maligned players by fans in terms of performance last season. Despite the team as a whole playing well below potential in 2011, many fans have chosen Blount as the whipping boy. It’s a confounding position given Blount was the winner of the Pizza Hut Play of the Year Award for his bulldozing scamper against the Green Bay Packers. Also, Blount’s numbers did not drop as drastically as perception holds.
The Buccaneers could be in a position of deciding between LSU corner Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson in April. Consensus seems to favor Richardson by most fans, despite the fact he and Blount are eerily similar. To compare, take a look at Richardson’s highlights from 2011 to those of Blount in 2010.
With the additions of Earnest Byner, Bob Bostad and Mike Sullivan to the Bucs coaching staff, it is fair to assume 2012 will see Legarrette’s true potential shine. Nothing less will be accepted by coach Greg Schiano. As you can see from the videos, both players display the same hard nosed style and ability once they hit the second level. The only difference is Richardson’s explosion off the ball, but if he has lost a step, that explosion could be negated.
Also, Blount is performing against professionals whereas Richardson is not. Though Richardson’s 49.7% of yardage after first contact can be seen as a plus, it can also be framed as a drawback. In the NFL, more teams than not will make the first tackle. We’ve seen Blount break first tackles with ease at times, but his 6’1/ 240+ frame dictates it. In contrast, Richardson’s 5’11/224 frame could have a harder time plowing through professional defenses.
None of this is meant as a knock on Richardson. He could be the next Adrian Peterson. Though he has great work ethic and character, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. The comparison is being made to show how Blount is not as bad as perception holds and Richardson might not be as flawless as perception holds.