The Mirage - Take The Running Back

With less than a month to go before the NFL draft, I have been mostly undecided about who I want the Browns to draft

I have spent hours studying tape of Mike Mayock and Charlie Casserly. I examined dozens of NFL mock drafts for clues to what the Cleveland Browns will do and then wondered if any of the people who wrote them could pass the Wonderlic Test, or the GED. Heck, even I have intangibles.

It always turns out that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous, and therefore I feel extremely dangerous when it comes to my opinion on the Cleveland Browns draft. Yes, I know what I am talking about. I watch television.

With less than a month to go before the NFL draft, I have been mostly undecided about who I want the Browns to draft. When the Browns were supposed to go get Robert Griffin III, I wanted them to do that. When it didn't happen, I was glad it didn't. As you may know, the contract of a fan specifically states: "Whatever they think is also my opinion, until they start losing."

Usually by late September or mid October, the opinion of the Browns staff is no longer my opinion. In April, though, those guys rule. I mean, literally.

So I am along for the ride. But my tape study of Mayock, Casserly, Mike Lombardi and countless others, along with my superficial knowledge of the Cleveland Browns and NFL football, has led me to one very specific indisputable position: First of all, I might be wrong. Secondly (okay, that's two specific things), the Browns should draft Trent Richardson.

Is Trent Richardson going to be a great running back? I have no idea. People who know things seem to say so.

Is Justin Blackmon going to be a great receiver? I have no idea. People who know things seem to say so.

Is Maurice Claiborne going to be a great cornerback? Repeat after me... I have no idea. People who know things seem to say so.

Do you see how this is a dilemma? But wait? What about Ryan Tannehill, the quarterback? At #4? Really? Look, I've done film study. It's not going to happen. Um, probably. But count me in on the idea that unless Robert Griffin III, who is supposed to be John Elway, is available, the Browns should build around Colt McCoy and then, if necessary, get a franchise quarterback last.

So that brings the argument back to three names, three positions. In fact, all three at such a high spot in a very good draft have a chance to basically define the identity of the Cleveland Browns for the next decade.

If the Browns draft Maurice Claiborne he is part of a long-time tandem with Joe Haden and anyone who was around 25 years ago can attest to how good a defense can be when it is anchored by two shutdown corners. With instant credibility, the Browns are the Dawgs again.

If the Browns draft Justin Blackmon, they may have found the perfect West Coast offense receiver. A big guy with great hands who can go over the middle and then run after the catch. Team him opposite Greg Little and the Browns set themselves as a quick strike offense that will just get scarier over time. Plus the team instantly finds out what Colt McCoy can do with legitimate weapons.

But if the Browns draft Trent Richardson, despite how the NFL has evolved, the entire offense is instantly better on every play, and almost every player on the offense has a little less pressure on them. A great wide receiver having a great day will touch the ball ten or so times in a game. A great running back can touch the ball 20 times or more every game. But the primary reason I want Richardson is because I remember how good Colt McCoy looked on days that Peyton Hillis had big games.

If my tape study is correct, Richardson is a healthy, non-head case and more talented version of Hillis. You want a team best identified as the Cleveland Browns? Take the running back.

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Brian Tarcy is the creator of, and the author of "The Dreamer" column in the Orange And Brown magazine.

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