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2012 NFL Draft: Whom should Browns choose between Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon?

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 30, 2012

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay said this afternoon during a conference call that he believes it will be tough for the Browns to pass on Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the fourth overall pick because Tannehill has the potential to become a franchise quarterback. McShay also said he thinks there's not a big drop-off from Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III to Tannehill.

But what if the Browns don't want to take Tannehill at No. 4 and instead choose between Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon? Who would be the better pick?

Here's McShay's answer:

That’s the tough part. I think there’s no question that Trent Richardson is a better talent, and I think he has a chance to come in and become an immediate success. I don’t see a huge difference between he and (Minnesota Vikings star running back) Adrian Peterson. Their running style is different, but in terms of just what they can provide, they have a very similar grade when I went back and looked at how I graded Peterson compared to Richardson.

He has the size, the power, the competitiveness. I think like any young back it’s gonna be an adjustment how quickly (holes) close up. He didn’t play behind a great offensive line, but a lot of their runs were kind of slower developing, but I know he has the instincts to adjust. He has lateral agility like very few guys in the 230-pound range and you give him a crease, and he can take it. He can go. He also is catching the ball naturally. He can make double moves in the open field and really make things happen as a receiver after the catch, and he’s improved in pass protection. There’s no part of his game that I look at that I don’t like. I think he can come in and become a huge difference maker in a league right now that is trending away from the running back position and more towards the passing attack and having these big wide receivers.

That’s the issue, I guess, if you’re Cleveland. The shelf life for running backs is as short as any position. I think it’s the shortest of them all. And are (teams) gonna get out of him what (they) could get with Blackmon, even though Blackmon’s not as good? I would take Richardson because I would just stick with my board and I know that in my mind Richardson’s a better football player, but I also know (Browns President Mike) Holmgren has a huge respect for wide receivers and what they can do in terms of changing the game plan and becoming impact players, and they need to get a guy like that for (quarterback Colt) McCoy. They can’t go wrong, but I would take Richardson over Blackmon if those were the two options.

In the Richardson vs. Blackmon debate, I agree with McShay, and I've written about the reasons Richardson makes sense for the Browns in my first mock draft of the year. But, of course, some would argue in favor of Blackmon, as evidenced by this post on

Who do you believe would be the better pick for the Browns?


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