What I want — Trent Richardson to Cincinnati
The Cincinnati Bengals have to part ways with Cedric Benson. He’s the exact opposite of the mentality the Bengals want to work towards. For a while, Cincinnati was second to only the Oakland Raiders in terms of bad apple players. With the new collection of talent building up all over the roster, especially on the offensive side of the ball, the Bengals need to say goodbye to that past mentality, and in doing so, say goodbye to Benson.
Granted, not all of this decision should be made on Benson’s past antics. An equally impactful factor is what Randy Moss refers to as “Straight cash, Homie.” Benson wants to be paid. And his numbers with the Bengals over the past three years would indicate that he deserves to be. But the Bengals got a surprising discount when they picked up Benson after he failed to meet first-round expectations with the Chicago Bears. The Bengals have been reaping in the benefits of a first-round talent at a bargain bin price. Now that it’s time to pay I’d expect the Bengals to completely check out on Benson.
Why I want it
I personally believe that most teams in the NFL feel as though they are currently set at the running back spot. Many teams now use a running back by committee approach and are already having issues feeding all the mouths. The remaining teams seemingly already have a big horse in the stall, an elite running back that they are comfortable enough with to wait much later in the draft before adding depth. With the first 16 teams in the draft filling more pressing needs than running back, it really wouldn’t surprise me to see Trent Richardson fall to Cincinnati at Pick 17.
It’s not as much of a long shot as one would think. While it’s true that Richardson is being touted as perhaps the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, there is a ton of talent at the position available later in the draft. The success of guys like DeMarco Murray, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Arian Foster and Peyton Hillis provide enough proof that the talent for the running back position is still viable outside of the first round. It’s also very possible that any of the 16 teams picking before Cincinnati who do have a possible need could address it through free agency, further strengthening the Bengals’ chances of landing Richardson. Don’t think it’s possible? Don’t forget that Aaron Rodgers fell from a possible first overall pick to being the 24th selected player. It’s draft day; anything could happen.
If Richardson does in fact fall to 17, the Bengals could piece together an offensive quartet of potentially dominant, young talent. Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham and Richardson could resemble Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Dallas Clark and Edgerrin James in the stat department. The Bengals could become the dominant team in a very crowded division. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are growing older and older by the minute, and Cincinnati could capitalize on that. Do you play against the run and risk Dalton hooking up with Green or do you drop coverage back and let Richardson carve you up? That could be the question of the week for 16 opposing defensive coordinators for quite some time.
What I want — Robert Griffin III to Cleveland
Indianapolis is going to select Andrew Luck. Period. The St. Louis Rams are not going to select a quarterback thanks to former No. 1 pick Sam Bradford’s presence on the roster. The Minneosta Vikings just invested a first-round pick in quarterback Christian Ponder last year. They may be regretting that decision now with Robert Griffin III staring them in the face, but you reap what you sow. That leaves Cleveland with the No. 4 pick. Even though they look so close, they seem so far away from Griffin. The latest chatter has Jeff Fisher shopping around his second overall pick, in essence shopping Griffin. It just makes way too much sense for Cleveland to miss here. Unless some miraculous trade from Miami or Washington works, it’s way down the pipe like last year with Atlanta and Julio Jones, Griffin suits up in Cleveland brown-and-orange in 2012. They’ll have to part with both of their first-round draft picks to do so, but a player of Griffin’s potential is clearly worth the fee.
The Browns need to get a game changer under center. They haven’t had a steady, productive quarterback at the helm for a long, long time. Tim Couch and Derek Anderson showed a little something but couldn’t sustain it. And don’t get me started on Colt McCoy. Long story short with him is that he is clearly not the answer in Cleveland. Griffin could bring an electricity to the Browns that they have never seen. A Cam Newton, explosive, game changing, franchise saving type of electricity. The Browns need a face of their franchise. Even more so after last season when Peyton Hillis, the-then face of the team, floundered and underperformed.
Why I want it
With a talent like Griffin, the offense could become very dynamic very quickly. Josh Cribbs’ speed would finally be fully utilized on the outside as a deep threat. The young, freakish Greg Little would be able to capitalize on well-placed balls that would exploit his size mismatch. Pass catching tight end Jordan Cameron would be able to use his speed to be targeted in quarterback rollout plays and make a ton of yards after the catch. Defenses wouldn’t be able to stack the box against the run, so Peyton Hillis (or whoever is the starting running back in 2012) wouldn’t receive as much attention. Add in the fact that Griffin’s running ability forces at least one defensive player to pay attention specifically to him for containment purposes. That means that there will be times when his targets won’t see the coverage they would normally get. This makes way too much sense and it needs to happen. Don’t sleep on any of the Browns if Griffin gets called by Cleveland.
What I want — St. Louis releases Brandon Lloyd; the Rams shop for receivers in the draft, not free agency
I want the St. Louis Rams to let Brandon Lloyd leave via free agency. Added to that, I want the Rams to try to find quarterback Sam Bradford more help through the draft more so than through free agent signings. It’s more cost effective and it provides the opportunity for further successful longevity. Signing a Randy Moss or Reggie Wayne is clearly a very short-term answer. It doesn’t make much sense when trying to develop a young quarterback. Even moreso when it’s quite clear that your team is years away from competing seriously. Signing a Vincent Jackson or Dwayne Bowe may not be the best idea for a budding franchise. The egos of Bowe and Jackson, or Moss for that matter, could easily destroy a young locker room that lacks a veteran’s presence. The Rams are going to use free agency to address some needs, but wideout should not be one of the splash zones.
Why I want it
The Rams have the chance to select a player who is being mentioned as a sure thing. Justin Blackmon is currently being referred to as the same kind of prospect as A.J. Green was during last year’s draft. Green was labeled a can’t-miss selection and he didn’t disappoint. Blackmon could potentially put up big numbers for a very long period of time in St. Louis with Bradford while also having an immediate impact, much like Green. Tight end Lance Kendricks would benefit from the help over the top. Kendricks would be able to own the middle of the field and put up elite tight end numbers. The running game would face less attention as well. That’s something Steven Jackson has been waiting years to hear. Jackson would be given more open space to work with and be able to be utilized as a check down option in the passing game. Blackmon’s production would benefit every skill position on the offensive side of the ball for St. Louis. It just makes too much sense.