As many of the loyal readers of the AFC North blog know, I believe the Cleveland Browns made the right move in draft running back Trent Richardson. The Browns need an offensive playmaker, and Richardson was clearly the top one remaining after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Others don't agree. ESPN's Jeffri Chadiha sees Richardson-Browns as the "worst marriage" in this year's draft. Here's how Chadiha sees the situation:
There are plenty of reasons to like Richardson, including his college production, intangibles and overall toughness. What's hard to ignore is the recent history of highly drafted running backs in the NFL. Only two runners taken in the first round since 2007 have turned into stars -- Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Tennessee's Chris Johnson -- and Richardson doesn't possess the explosiveness or speed of those two.
The Browns also have a lousy passing game, which means Richardson will find more defenders focused on him every time he lines up. That doesn't mean he won't be productive at all. It just means he isn't as likely to live up to the status of being the third overall pick in the draft. Keep in mind, Browns Hall of Famer Jim Brown already has called him "ordinary." From this vantage point, it's easy to think other people might have a similar opinion of Richardson this season.
While he makes valid points, I'm going to have to disagree. I see this as a perfect pairing. The Browns' offense got pushed around too much last season, and it gained a tougher attitude with Richardson. He's the type of back that Cleveland needs to compete against the likes of the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals.
What will help this "marriage" in the future is the addition of deep threats. When defenses began to stack the box against Richardson, the Browns need to be able to counter with a strong-armed Brandon Weeden throwing downfield to receivers who can gain separation.
One point that everyone can agree on is Richardson is the type of talent that will cause defenses to adjust and react. You couldn't say that about anyone on the Cleveland offense last season.
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