By Jeremy Clements
Much of the conversation involving the St. Louis Rams and the NFL Draft has centered around Justin Blackmon, but someone else might be above Blackmon on the Rams big board. That someone would be former Alabama running back Trent Richardson. There are a few reasons that the Rams might draft Richardson with the 6th overall pick in the draft if he’s available.
This draft is loaded with wide receivers. Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright are the three best receivers in the draft and at least one of them will be a top ten pick. In addition to those three top tier prospects there is a bevy of talent at this position. Stephen Hill, Alshon Jeffrey, Mohamed Sanu, Rueben Randle, Marvin McNutt and Nick Toon are among the wide outs who could be considered second round talent. Given that the Rams have two picks in the second round this year, they might be able to rationalize not selecting a wide out until the second round.
Richardson was a tank in the backfield at Alabama. His mix of speed and strength has garnered comparisons to Emmitt Smith. The junior had a break out year in 2011, rushing for more than 1,600 yards with 21 touchdowns while finishing third in voting for the Heisman Trophy last season. He finished his college career with 3130 yards on 540 carries and 35 touchdowns.
Jeff Fisher has a track record of selecting running backs early in the draft. As the coach of the Titans Fisher used several first and second round picks on running backs. Chris Johnson was selected with the 24th pick in 2009. Fisher used a second round pick on Chris Henry in 2007 just a year after selecting LenDale White 45th overall. So again, selecting a running back early in the draft wouldn’t come as a shock for a team coached by Jeff Fisher.
Fisher is also known for having a run first offense and Richardson would be a great fit alongside Steven Jackson. This isn’t to say that Jackson is in decline by any means. He has had some issues with staying healthy over the past few seasons, but he has still rushed for more than 1,100 yards in each of the last three seasons. Drafting Richardson would give the Rams a lethal one-two punch in the backfield and wouldn’t be out of the norm for a Fisher offense.
Drafting Richardson presents the Rams with an interesting proposition. While Richardson is by far the best running back in this draft class, the franchise would have a hard time passing up an elite receiver like Justin Blackmon, since that is a position the Rams desperately need to fill. If nothing else though, the possibility of drafting Richardson is worth the discussion.
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