Forget RG3, we will get LMJ. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
I have tried reason. I have tried ignoring it. I have tried crying.
Some people, national, local and here on DBN, continue to believe that Trent Richardson is the best player for the Browns to take in the 2012 NFL Draft.
So here it is, my final plea. Hopefully this can show why LaMichael James, not Trent Richardson, is the best Running Back for the Browns.
1. Draft Position
I have beat this into the ground so often, I'm not going to give it much lip service here. Don't be confused, this is a MAJOR reason why LMJ is better than Richardson. But at this point in time, I don't think there is anyone left on earth that needs me to explain why I hate me some first round Running Backs.
2. Round Peg, Round Hole
Every time I watch LaMichael James, I keep seeing one guy over and over. It's Brian Westbrook. A guy who can run between the tackles well enough, but can catch the ball, and is a complete mis-match in the open field. In Westbrook's best season, he stacked up 90 catches that season.
I know Shurmur had some success with Steven Jackson, a guy who I actually think compares quite well with Trent Richardson, but I think the Eagles were at their best with Westbrook, and the last two seasons with LeSean McCoy.
But after the usage of Peyton Hillis last season, and the success we had with Chris Ogbonnaya, I think this coaching staff is more comfortable with a smaller, more versatile Running Back, like a McCoy or Westbrook.
3. The Size Of LMJ Is Overblown
Save the "He's not big enough" argument. Not buying it. Westbrook was 5'10 and 203lbs. Jamaal Charles is 5'11, 199lbs. Yet somehow LMJ is "too small" at 5'8 and 194. Anyone care to explain that to me? Not to mention, I assume he can add 10 pounds of muscle working with the Browns conditioning and training staff.
I'm not saying we hammer him between the tackles 25 times a game, but somehow Westbrook had 3 seasons of 200+ carries and Jamaal Charles had 2 seasons of 190 carries and 230 totes. Pretty crazy huh? Yet somehow Darren McFadden, all 6-2 and 215lbs has topped 113 carries once in his career.
This is a RB committee league. We have LaMichael James get 250 touches (carries and catches) and Montario Hardesty 150 touches. All the sudden we have a RB duo that touches the ball 400 times. Anyone else cool with that? (Cue the Hardesty jokes)
4. Goal Line Back?
I already hear you, LMJ will be great from 20-to-20, but when we get down to the nitty-gritty, we will have wished we went with the "Power" of Richardson. The Lee-Corso-not-so-fast-my-friend:
Let's look a little deeper shall we?
Taking a look at "Goal-to-go" carries, paints a picture that I'm guessing you have backwards:
In his three seasons at Alabama, Trent Richardson carried the ball on Goal-to-go situations 55 times. He scored 21 of those carries.
In his three seasons at Oregon, LMJ carried the ball on Goal-to-go situations 56 times. He scored on 30 of those carries.
Almost the same amount of carries, with 9 more Touchdowns. Not convinced? We're not done.
Last season, on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 situations, Trent Richardson carried the ball 18 times for a 4.27 YPC.
Last season, on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 situations, LMJ carried the ball 24 times for a 6.27 YPC.
You are probably thinking that LMJ had some long run that really messes with those numbers. Well, then allow me, I take away the two longest runs in those situations for LMJ (he had one for 30 yards and one for 25 yards). He still averaged 4.36 YPC on the 22 other carries. That is still more than what Trent Richardson averaged, INCLUDING Richardson's long carry of 25 yards!
I know the two offenses couldn't be more different. I realize that YPC isn't the best stat when looking at short yardage situations, but it's what I have to work with. It does show us something though, it shows us that LMJ isn't just some toy that is only used in between the 20's. This is a kid who can stick his nose in the tough situations and get you the tough yards when you need them.
5. Improving Our Passing Game With A Running Back
How many times last season did we see Linebackers and Safeties clogging the middle of the field last season? Greg Little going across the middle usually attracted every Linebacker, one Cornerback and a Safety.
Now imagine running that pattern this season, but LMJ sneaks right behind him on a wheel route? Anyone else love the idea of Ike Taylor looking for help as LMJ blows right by him with his right hand in the air? Once the Safeties and Cornerbacks learn to stay home, now we have Little against a Linebacker. I love that match-up.
Not only that, we can give Colt McCoy a true weapon when everything breaks down. I don't know about you guys, but I like our odds with LMJ in the flat against Keith Rivers, with us needing 5 yards for a first down. Trent Richardson is a nice player, but he doesn't have same open field ability that LMJ has.
Conclusion: When you factor in the price, the versatility and the pure home run hitting ability of LaMichael James, it is a no-doubter-slam-dunk decision to take LaMichael James over Trent Richardson.