May 11, 2012; Berea, OH, USA: Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) waits to be interviewed during rookie training camp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE
ESPN's Jamison Hensley is continuing his top five positional breakdowns for the AFC North; on Thursday, he took a look at running backs. Although I found it a bit ridiculous to crown a rookie like David DeCastro as the division's fifth best offensive lineman without him having played a snap, since there are far fewer running backs who make an impact (one position versus five positions), it makes more sense to include rookies.
Cleveland Browns first-round pick Trent Richardson was ranked at No. 2 on the list, only behind the Ravens' Ray Rice. Coming in third was the Bengals' BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and coming in fourth was the Steelers' Isaac Redman. I'd say that these rankings are pretty fair compared to the offensive line rankings:
2. Trent Richardson, Browns: The third overall pick in the draft will have the same impact on the running game as last year's top rookie in the division, the Bengals' A.J. Green, had on the passing game. He could have a bigger immediate impact than Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. There's not another back in this division who can match Richardson's combination of power and elusiveness.
Coming in at fifth on the list was Ravens fullback Vonta Leech, which says something about the lack of depth at running back across the AFC North (i.e. no team really has a strong No. 2 back, do they)? Cleveland is actually in pretty decent shape in terms of depth if Brandon Jackson stays healthy and becomes the team's West Coast utility back he was supposed to be a year ago.
Side question: if Peyton Hillis was on the Browns still instead of Richardson, where would he be ranked? I think he'd still be second.