By Tony Grossi
Add Jon Gruden to the Trent Richardson bandwagon.
The former NFL coach, ESPN analyst and good friend of Mike Holmgren held a conference call today. I asked him if Cleveland is committed to supporting quarterback Colt McCoy, which player would do it better – Richardson, the running back from Alabama, or Justin Blackmon, the wideout from Oklahoma State.
“The easiest thing to do is turn around and hand the ball to somebody 300 times a year,” Gruden said. “Everybody says, ‘Don’t take a running back. You can get those guys in the fifth, sixth or seventh round. You go try to find Trent Richardson in the fifth, sixth or seventh round.
“He’s a beast. He broke all of Emmitt Smith’s high school rushing records in Florida. I’ve seen him run over people, run around people, he protects the ball, he can catch it, can pick up blitzes. He might be the strongest human being on the planet. I think his weightlifting proves that. He was a team captain of a two-time national championship team.
“No disrespect to Blackmon, but Adrian Peterson and Trent Richardson as prospects kind of remind me of each other. Maybe A.P. had a little bit more home-run speed. But these are punishing, difference-maker backs.
“I think Richardson, with Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly, the history of great backs in Clevealnd, I think that would be pretty neat.
It’s not as if Gruden doesn’t like Blackmon, either.
“If you don’t like Justin Blackmon, you don’t like football,” he said. “There’s not a lot you can’t like about Blackmon. The one thing is I thought he was 6-6, 240 pounds when I watched him. He’s not as big as I thought he was and he didn’t run the blinding time. But he fits any offense. He’s smart, and he’s clutch.”
For the record, Blackmon measured a shade under 6-1 and weighed 207 at the NFL combine.
Later in the call Gruden speculated the Browns would add to McCoy’s supporting cast rather than select Ryan Tannehill or Brandon Weeden to compete with him.
“Obviously, he’s got to continue to get better and I think improving the supporting cast would help any quarterback, let alone Colt.”
Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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