By Tony Grossi
Extra Points …
THE man: Trent Richardson is an amazing physical specimen. Only 5-9 ¼, his 228 pounds are distributed high and low. His upper body is thick and wide, his shoulders and neck layered in muscle. His arms are pythons. His lower body is rooted in a pair of calves the size of cantaloupes. The biggest calves I’ve seen on a Cleveland Brown belonged to Frank Minnifield. Richardson’s are larger.
“He might be the strongest human being on the planet,” ESPN’s Jon Gruden said before the draft.
This is a man who has got to be hard to tackle.
“Wow!” coach Pat Shurmur said when asked to comment on Richardson’s physique. “He’s a very powerful man. He’s powerfully built. Don’t let the 5-9 fool you. He’s almost 230 pounds. That’s a lot of muscle packed into that body. I just think he’s got a very powerful build, much like we thought, and it shows up on the field.”
“I think everybody is amazed (by Richardson’s physique),” said running back coach Gary Brown.
Brown, of course, felt the brunt of the compact, explosive power of Richardson’s frame when he was knocked off his feet at the Alabama pro day. The 21-second video of Richardson’s two-handed push of Brown holding a blocking bag is approaching 327,000 hits on YouTube.
“He lifted me off my feet. I just knew at that point that kid is a powerful, powerful young man,” Brown said.
“All my brothers are over six feet tall,” Richardson said after his third rookie camp practice. “I have one who’s 6-6.We were all strong. I’m the runt of the litter.”
The gift of shortness: As coordinator with the St. Louis Rams, Shurmur’s feature back Steven Jackson stood 6-2 and weighed 240 pounds. Mike Holmgren’s MVP workhorse in Seattle, Shaun Alexander, was 5-11 and 225. Adrian Peterson, whom Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress had when Vikings head coach, is 6-1 and 217.
Richardson’s unique dimensions enable him to take advantage of scatback height and fullback power.
“Depending on how they’re built, runners get used to their size and it drives their running style,” Shurmur said. “Trent can get his foot down and slash it up in the line of scrimmage. By the nature of his build, it’s hard to get your arms around him and tackle. That natural leverage that he has also gives him great balance.”
Brown said, “If you’re going to be 5-9, you have to be stacked up pretty good, you have to be able to take the pounding. I think this kid, he is that guy. They did a great job with him at Alabama. He’s put together real well. He works hard in the weight room. He takes pride in being a strong player.”
Brown had similar height when he was a running back in the 1990s primarily with the Houston Oilers.
He said there are “absolutely” advantages to the position being so low to the ground.
“It’s a smaller target,” he said. “Guys lose you behind the big O-line. What happens, guys can stay low, find creases and make big runs. You look at guys like Ray Rice, (Maurice) Jones-Drew, those guys take advantage of that. And when they get loose, they have enough power and enough speed where they’re hard to tackle. You do finally catch up to them.
“What happens, when you’re not a tall back and you’re strongly built, your balance is better. That’s a tremendous advantage when guys try to arm tackle you. You bounce off and keep going.”
Richardson said he loved hiding behind his linemen at Alabama, then bursting through a crease.
“We saw that at times at Alabama,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s a very patient runner. I think he’s got excellent vision, so when he sees daylight he can get his foot down and get up into it.”
Hardly ordinary: Jones-Drew, who led the NFL with 1,606 rushing yards and is a three-time Pro Bowler, is 5-7 and 208 – 20 pounds lighter than Richardson.
Baltimore’s Rice, who was second with 1,364, including 204 in one game against the Browns, is 5-8 and 212 – 16 pounds lighter than Richardson.
In truth, there is no current back in the NFL with the dimensions and strength of Richardson. With all due respect to Jim Brown, this is no ordinary back the Browns drafted with the third overall pick.
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