Hello everyone, and welcome to my first-ever post! I'll gladly wait until your applause and cheers die down a tad before I continue.
(silence ... crickets chirping ... tumbleweeds slowly rolling along)
Ahem. Since I joined The Phinsider in September 2009, I've become somewhat infamous for spending the majority of my time here discussing which college players the Dolphins should heavily consider, and which prospects they should avoid like the plague. Call it a flaw or a vice, but I am always on the lookout for premier talent at the college level, regardless of whether it's opening weekend of the NFL season or NFL Combine week in February. It's not that I am ever anything less than totally focused on the Dolphins' current season; I just like having a few Fins-compatible college prospects in mind whenever specific holes turn up on our roster (something that, you know, tends to happen with this team from time to time).
And now that I am officially part of The Phinsider team, I'll bring you guys a different Dolphins-friendly college prospect each week, Who knows? Maybe I'll introduce you to the prospect that gets you through the next time we get lit up at a certain position.
To kick off this series, let's take a look at the college prospect who was on my mind throughout the second half of our game against New England on Monday night:
Trent Richardson, RB Alabama
Who is this guy? Well, a dream addition to Miami's backfield, for starters
Reggie Bush was an excellent addition by the Dolphins' front office, but he isn't someone you want to run between the tackles early and often. And even with Brian Daboll's aggressive approach to the passing game starting to take shape, the Dolphins are a franchise that will continue to rely on the ground game the way Sissy, drunk and dejected, retreated back to Wes Hightower's trailer night after night in Urban Cowboy. What does this mean? Well, if Chad Henne continues to improve throughout this season, then the priority of finding a sledgehammer, franchise running back moves right near the top of the Dolphins' to-do list. Alabama's Trent Richardson is certainly a sledgehammer back--thickly built, with excellent field vision and the size and raw speed to rip right through the second level of any defense in his way. And believe it or not, it actually gets better with this guy, as he's excellent in pass protection, keeps his tree-trunk-like legs moving after contact (he appears to be extremely hard to bring down with a single defender), displays the ability to make quick cuts, and carries the ball high and tight. As a result, Richardson has lost only one fumble in his two years in Tuscaloosa.
Richardson would be an ideal addition to Miami's backfield, as the left side of the Dolphins' offensive line excels at run blocking (especially Jake Long and Mike Pouncey). And if the team can get younger and more capable on the right side of the line, it will be open season on opposing defenses in the AFC East.
Ew, doesn't he play for Nick Saban?
Unfortunately, yes. But even though I enjoy Nick Saban like I enjoy next-day White Castle aftermath, it's hard to justify passing on an elite running back prospect (and I mean elite) like Trent Richardson just because his current coach is the Prince of Darkness. If that's not enough to convince you to turn a blind eye to the Saban connection, consider this: if I had to rank the three best running backs in college football since 2007 (the year Adrian Peterson left Oklahoma for the NFL), Richardson would be neck-and-neck with ridiculous South Carolina sophomore Marcus Lattimore for the No.1 spot on the list. Not bad ...
Why would we even consider using a first-round pick on a running back?
This is actually a good point, as it's very difficult to justify using an early pick on a running back when some of the league's best at the position were drafted as late as the seventh round (Ahmad Bradshaw) or weren't even drafted at all (LaGarrette Blount).
Here's how I see it: drafting a running back in later rounds makes sense, especially if the team runs a healthy platoon in its backfield. However, if you're the Dolphins, and you have new-found confidence in your once-beleaguered quarterback, and your offensive coordinator wants the passing game to go for the throat early and often, and you just happen to be pretty thin at the running back position, it just doesn't make sense to pass on an elite running back prospect who would turn Miami's backfield into a consistent home-run threat.
Verdict: If Chad Henne has a monster year, and we're 100 percent comfortable with him (let's cross our fingers here), then Trent Richardson unquestionably becomes my No.1 prospect available next April. Call me a sucker, but it's hard to say no to a powerhouse running back with the vision, instincts and blitzkrieg speed that Richardson brings to the table. And as of right now, I hope our front office will feel the same way in seven months.