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The Kansas City Chiefs Running Back Question

The running back question...

I do a few radio shows a week and it's that time of year when the hosts are asking about the 2012 NFL draft. Which positions will the Chiefs target? What are the needs? Where is this draft strong? And then we get a lot of questions about Alabama's Trent Richardson, probably because he's a terrific running back on the country's best team.

So would the Chiefs ever snag Richardson, a likely first round pick, and pair him with Jamaal Charles? Can you imagine what those two could do together?

Yes, I can imagine and it would probably be great for a few years. Richardson is a bruiser, he's succeeded at the highest levels of college football and the Chiefs are losing a guy (Thomas Jones) who may need to be replaced. Thunder and lightning. I get it.

So Richardson-to-KC?

Not so fast, my friend (thanks, Lee Corso).

The way the league is trending, first round running backs just aren't worth it anymore (while recognizing there are always exceptions). You draft them, they play for a handful of years and most of them lose the juice pretty quickly. Why not draft a guard who will be a productive part of the team for a decade? Or a tackle?

For example, let's take a look at some of the running backs who were playing last weekend:

  • Texans: Arian Foster. Undrafted and a unique story because hidden gems usually aren't this good.
  • Saints: Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Darren Sproles. Thomas? Undrafted. Ivory? Udrafted? Sproles? Fourth round pick.
  • Falcons: Michael Turner. Fifth round back traded from the Chargers to the Falcons.
  • Giants: Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Jacobs is a fourth round pick and Bradshaw is a seventh round pick.
  • Steelers: Isaac Redman. Undrafted.

It's just that an important of a position anymore, at least not first-round-important, if you ask me (which you didn't).

And as a Chiefs fan, I've been scarred by Larry Johnson. The incredible two-year run we saw out of LJ and the subsequent fall was hard to see. LJ signed a big, long-term deal with KC and even at that time a good number of people were saying that was not a good contract because LJ was likely to break down...and he did (and then his ability to be a decent human being broke down but that's a whole other story).

I'll compare this to the old saying: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." You can get the stud running back who can be productive for a relatively short while, but wouldn't you rather build up the offensive line so anyone can be productive for an even longer time?

That's just the way it goes with running backs these days. The defenders are bigger, stronger, faster and guys that receive contact on every play, like a running back, simply don't last very long. So, while Trent Richardson certainly looks the part and will likely be a productive running back in the league, I just don't think taking him in the first round is worth it.

So my who-to-pair-with-Jamaal-Charles solution is one of two things: 1.) spend a late round pick on a running back this year or 2.) bring in a veteran like Thomas Jones was in 2010.

I know we have a lot of Trent Richardson fans around here so tell me why my take on this is wrong.

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