I was all set to write about something else tonight, making a fearless prediction about the Bengals first pick that is still three months away. Then, I noticed something. Most of the teams picking ahead of the Bengals have franchise running backs or more glaring needs. So even though Richardson is ranked as a top 5 player by most experts, he could still fall to the Bengals (via Oakland) at No. 17. Let’s take a look at the draft order provided by ESPN.
1. Indy – The Colts seem set to take Andrew Luck.
2. Rams – Steven Jackson is getting older, but he’s still productive. And the Rams have holes everywhere.
3. Vikings – Toby Gerhart is behind Adrian Peterson in case his injuries persist.
4. Browns – A quick survey of one Browns fan resulted in a Justin Blackmon prediction. Richardson could be a possibility with Peyton Hillis potentially on the way out, but Montario Hardesty is behind him.
5. Buccaneers – LeGarrette Blount is still young and is productive when healthy.
6. Redskins – The Redskins could use a quarterback more than a running back.
7. Jaguars – Maurice Jones-Drew is awesome at any age and the Jags need help at receiver.
*8. Panthers – DeAngelo Williams was re-signed last season. Cam Newton could use more receivers though.
*9. Dolphins – Reggie Bush is there, as is Daniel Thomas last year’s selection.
*10. Bills – The Bills have a solid two-headed monster in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.
*11. Chiefs – Jamaal Charles should return to health.
(*Coin flips will determine order for Panthers/Dolphins and Bills/Chiefs)
12. Seahawks – Marshawn Lynch loves Skittles. And the Seahawks love him.
13. Cardinals – The Cardinals have both Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, who should return this year.
14. Cowboys – DeMarco Murray excelled as a rookie rusher for Dallas.
15. Eagles – LeSean McCoy had a terrific season and the Eagles could use help in other areas.
16. Jets – Richardson could easily fall here, with a team looking to revive a quarterback’s career. But if he doesn’t…
17. Bengals – It’s hard to believe, but it could happen. There’s a sense that running backs aren’t as valued as they used to be. Plus, as I’ve illustrated, most of the teams in front of Cincinnati have more presing needs somewhere else. So the Bengals could get an unexpected shot at Richardson and could maybe even move up ahead of the Jets to snag him a few picks earlier at a small price. If Richardson did land in Cincinnati next to A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, the Bengals would have their own version of the triplets that thrived in Indianapolis (Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Edge James) a few years ago.
Now, if that doesn’t get you excited for the draft, I don’t know what does.