Alabama running back Trent Richardson wasn't the MVP during Monday Night's National Championship Game, but it was his 34-yard touchdown that sealed the game -- though two Jeremy Shelley field goals worked just as well apparently. Richardson's touchdown was the first touchdown scored in eight quarters (plus overtime) between Alabama and LSU. Though he has yet to declare his intentions for next season, we're going to assume he makes the decision to enter the NFL. With a plausible scenario that the team will rebuild their running back position for next season, the question has to be asked: Should the Bengals select Trent Richardson presuming he'll be available?
Presuming that Trent Richardson is available 17th overall, should the Bengals pull the trigger?
Jason Garrison: They do need a new running back but there are much bigger holes on the roster that need to be filled. They can find a running back in free agency or later in the draft much easier than they would be able to find a cornerback, safety or lineman.
Josh Kirkendall: Even if the Cincinnati Bengals selected Trent Richardson, there's no reason to believe he'll be successful in the NFL. Why? Because there's only one offensive guard signed for 2012, Clint Boling. And if the Bengals bring back Nate Livings or Mike McGlynn, Richardson would have a very hard time being successful behind a mediocre offensive line in the run game. If there's a guard you can take 17th, you do it. If there's a safety or cornerback 21st overall, you do that too. Or vice versa. Doesn't matter.
Jason: I think that championship teams are built from the line out. I still think they could look for a running back in the second or third round, but the line needs to be the priority right now. Not just for the running game, but for Andy Dalton's protection as well.
Josh: First selection ever by Paul Brown for the Cincinnati Bengals, a center in Bob Johnson. But needs on this team aren't just limited to the offensive line. There's so many and of those, it seems to me that running back is probably the most available throughout most rounds whereas a great corner or safety is much harder to find. This team is close and they do need help at running back (and if they select Richardson, I won't complain), especially with the hopeful prognostication that Cedric Benson leaves, but using one of their two first round picks in the draft? I don't see it.
For those people arguing that the Bengals should trade up for Trent Richardson, what do you say to them?
Jason: I think that would be a terrible, terrible mistake. They completely give away the advantage that they have with two first-round picks that could help solidify both the offense and defense just to get somebody that probably would struggle behind a sub-par offensive line. It would just be like we didn't trade Carson Palmer and had another bad year that resulted in having an early pick. They need a cornerback, a safety, guards and wide receivers. Trading up would only hurt their chances of getting the players they need.
Josh: My only response to those people demanding to trade up for Richardson is this. Are you an idiot? You're risking the loss of another starter, no matter how you package it. If they grouped a first and third rounder to move up several slots to select Richardson, they'd still lose a potential starter, like a Jordan Shipley, Michael Johnson, Pat Sims. As you said, this team has too many needs to sacrifice positions in the draft just for one running back.
If the Bengals pass up Richardson with the No. 17 pick, and he's somehow available when the Bengals go back on the clock at No. 21, would you take him there?
Josh: Essentially there's four spots between Cincinnati's two first round selections. If you're not willing to take him 17th, then why wait until the 21st spot? Would the San Diego Chargers pass up the opportunity to add another offensive weapon? A team like the Chicago Bears might be pressed to select Richardson, depending on Matt Forte's future. No. If there's someone in the secondary, the offensive line or even at linebacker, I'd go there first.
Jason: First of all, I don't think there's really much of a chance that he would be around by the 17th pick, let alone the 21st, but if he is, I still think the Bengals should find players that fill their bigger needs in the first round.