Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Will Trent Richardson go in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft?

For reasons I will spell out in a soon-but-future blog entry, I believe Trent Richardson has to be the prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman this year. This is a continuation of the 10-year historical trend which shows that you must be (A) from a very established power-program and (B) play for a nation-championship contender and (C) be the MVP of that program. Trent is the only guy who fits the suit.

Most of the early draft boards show Trent as the #1 running back on the 2012 NFL Draft. Not the #1 pick, mind you, just the best running back. CBS Sports has him graded as the #8 overall pick in the entire draft. We know that there will be many swerves in the road between this point and that, and we know nothing of them. Still, it is a solid bet that TR will retain his top-ranking.

But this leaves open the question: Where and when will Richardson be drafted in 2012? Many great backs including Thurman Thomas have fallen into the 2nd round. Very few these days have been taken anywhere near the top.

With the massive success of undrafted free-agents like Arian Foster and LeGarrette Blount, there is more talk now that ever about how deprecated the running back position is in the NFL Draft. Former GMs like Michael Lombardi have told us many times that the RB is now a commodity position. GMs feel increasingly free to plug-n-play any sort of prospect in the lineup. There is no need to draft an RB in the 1st round or even near it.

With this as a background, consider the rumor I heard on XM radio yesterday evening: Unknown experts I am hardly familiar with stated (for all the reasons I just spelled out) their conviction that Trent Williams will go in the 2nd round of the 2012 Draft. Quote: "He may be pick 33, but he won't go before 33."

Wow... shocking... believe me, I know. Consider this: Trent's better predecessor narrowly avoided the 2nd round in this past 2011 draft. Further, 2011 gave us a very weak draft. Even so, Mark Ingram was selected just 4 picks away from the bottom of the 1st round. 2012 will be better year. If we put both of Richardson and Ingram on the same board together, I would select Ingram first.

If all this is true, it is plausible that Trent Williams will fall into the 2nd round. I had not considered this, but it is rational and plausible. Shocking none the less, I know.

I thought about the implications all night last night. If the chips do happen to fall as expected, the Rams should hold the #34 pick. We should have exercised the #2 pick on Justin Blackmon, just as CBS Sports and yours truly project. Think of the marvelous good luck we would have if Trent Williams just happens to be on the board at pick #34?

Do we snatch him with pick #34? Unless everybody in the building is on drugs, the answer is certainly yes! You know and I know that Steve Jackson is ever increasingly worn down. We have not gotten a full 16 game season out of him at anytime. Whether we deal him to a contender for his benefit is a question of internal politics in the big front office transition we face in 2012. Whatever happens, we would be stupid to pass on a potential franchise back who would do wonderful things to weaponize Sam Bradford.

Whilst I feel bad for Trent Williams, I am very excited for my team. The implications of snatching both Justin Blackmon & Trent Richardson in the same draft are fairly staggering. Provided our 3rd Rounder is a good choice, our offense could go from disgustingly weak to reasonably loaded in short measure. If we retain Bradon Lloyd, we could be ready for war in 2012.