Earlier today, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks wrote a column breaking down which running back reigns supreme between the Cleveland Browns' Trent Richardson and the Washington Redskins' Alfred Morris. Previously, in the NFL Network's ranking of the top 100 players of 2013, Richardson was voted No. 71 overall, while Morris was voted No. 64 overall. Given he was in the same draft class, perhaps Doug Martin would have been a good comparison too (he was voted No. 57 overall), but he was not included in Brooks' comparison.
Brooks broke the evaluation between Richardson and Morris down into five categories: vision, power, explosiveness, big-play ability, and receiving skills, before coming to an overall conclusion. Here is the winner he deemed for each category:
Power: Alfred Morris
Explosiveness: Trent Richardson
Big-Play Ability: Alfred Morris
Receiving Skills: Trent Richardson
Brooks goes into deep explanations with some video support for his decision on each category above, but I still have a couple of disagreements. I saw too many questionable decisions from Richardson in 2012 to trust his vision. Sure, Morris may have just benefited from a good system, but I'd give him the edge there. I would have given Richardson the edge in big-play ability -- Morris is a nice, consistent back, but Richardson, when healthy, displayed the ability to make the highlight reel play to shift the momentum of a game.
In Brooks' conclusion, he said that despite Morris' better stat sheet in 2012, he gives Richardson the edge when it comes to 2013:
I still favor Richardson in this debate, because I believe his talent and core traits are superior. He is a special runner with the kind of skills that typically translate into outstanding success as a pro. Additionally, I'm convinced that, if he were in a read-option system with RG3 running the show, Richardson would exceed the totals Morris put up in Washington.
Although we will never know how each runner would fare in the other's system, I do believe we will see Richardson fully maximize his talents in a Norv Turner offense that routinely makes the running back the focal point of the offense -- after all, the coordinator did it in Dallas with Emmitt Smith and in San Diego with LaDainian Tomlinson. Expect Richardson to validate my case with a strong performance in 2013.
Richardson is currently dealing with a sore shin muscle that could keep him out of minicamp next week.