Richardson flashes speed, power at Alabama pro day

JOHN ZENOR AP Sports Writer Published:

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Trent Richardson swept the Cleveland Browns off their feet -- or at least one notable member of the franchise.

The former Crimson Tide tailback probably left a lasting impression on Browns running backs coach Gary Brown Thursday during Round 2 of Alabama's pro day.

Richardson bowled over Brown -- a still-sturdy eight-year NFL veteran runner -- in a blocking drill. So a potential suitor -- the Browns have the fourth pick in April and need a running back -- at least knows Richardson packs a wallop.

"Any time someone's in my way, I'm going to try to knock them over," Richardson said. "Either they're going to hit me or I'm going to hit them. So nine times out of 10 I'm trying to throw the lick."

Brown was among the large assembly of NFL scouts, coaches and general managers who attended the workouts.

A possible top five draft pick, the physical 227-pound Richardson ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.45-4.49 range, according to NFL.com. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 25 times.

Video of his hit on Brown quickly made the Internet rounds.

More importantly, Browns coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert were on hand for pro day, too. Richardson said he's scheduled to visit Cleveland, St. Louis and Tampa among others.

"Whoever wants me to come," he said, "I can't wait."

Safety Mark Barron and linebacker/defensive end Courtney Upshaw also worked out on pro day. All three are projected first-rounders who were nursing injuries at the NFL combine and skipped Alabama's first pro day on March 7.

Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who did some drills, and linebacker Dont'a Hightower also could go in Round 1.

Richardson was perhaps the main attraction. The Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman Trophy finalist had minor knee surgery before the combine.

Among running backs, only Southern Illinois' Jewel Hampton (26 repetitions) and Boise State's Doug Martin (28) did better on the bench press at the combine. Only Miami's Lamar Miller (4.40) ran faster than his range.

"I think he's probably the best running back in the draft this year," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "Probably one of the best players in the draft. I think that's based on his performance and his production and his consistency he's played with. The personal characteristics he has in terms of psychological disposition to be successful, which is really A-plus.

"I know there are some people that have some concerns about taking a running back high but with the salary cap changes in the rookie pool, you're not investing as much in a guy as you used to."

Only one running back -- Buffalo's C.J. Spiller (No. 9) -- has been a top 10 pick in the past three years. Richardson's former teammate Mark Ingram was the only back in the first round last year, going 28th to the New Orleans Saints.

"That motivates me a lot," Richardson said. "I want to set the bar high and put us back on the map and show them that we're very, very rare and that we need to be in the top five, top 10. We need to be up there high. A lot of teams try to beat up on us a lot of times.

"When it comes down to it, I think they're going to need us early in our career and we're going to try to make it to our second contract and try to do stuff with it."

Upshaw, meanwhile, didn't run at the combine with knee tendinitis. This time he was clocked from 4.73-4.76 in the 40.

Another key number: 279. Upshaw said he had gained six pounds since weighing in at 273 at the combine, when he had hoped to drop down to 265-268.

"That's the only disappointment for today," he said. "I just went out and tried to do my best. I feel good."

Upshaw played both linebacker and end for the Tide, which uses the three-man front as a base defense but employed him in both roles. Saban said he could thrive at either spot in the NFL.

"He weighed 280 pounds today and ran 4.7-something, so I think he probably could," said Saban, a former Miami Dolphins coach. "He played both here. A lot of people say 'You play a 3-4.' We only play a 3-4 20 percent of the time. The rest of the time we're in some kind of 4-3 defense and he always played defensive end and did a great job. ... I actually do think he could play in either system."

Barron said he played most of the season with a bilateral sports hernia, which was repaired surgically after the national championship game.

His 40 time, according to NFL.com, was in the 4.53-4.57 range.

"That wasn't what I usually run, but for me to be between 80 and 90 percent, I'll take it," Barron said.

All three players have been training at Athletes' Performance in Phoenix.

Other head coaches in attendance Thursday included New England's Bill Belichick and Dallas' Jason Garrett.

Saban did get a chance to enjoy a not-so-relaxing dinner with Belichick, his former boss, Wednesday evening, Between them they could have afforded to dine at a nice restaurant.

"You don't know Belichick very well," Saban responded, grinning. "What you do when he comes to town, you go in the meeting room and you order the stuff in and you eat while the film's going. That's what we did."