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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Cleveland Browns Choose Trent Richardson, For Some Reason

No team has caused more problems in the first picks of the average 2012 NFL Mock Draft than the Cleveland Browns, who've seemed directionless ever since the St. Louis Rams decided on the Washington Redskins' package for the Robert Griffin III spot instead of their own offer. Since then they've been connected with all three canonical second-tier players—Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne—as well as Ryan Tannehill, this year's wild-card quarterback.

For all that, I think this has to be Richardson. Tannehill would be too transparently an attempt to sate a fanbase furious about the RG3 rumors falling through, and a reach besides; Justin Blackmon would be too much a vote of confidence in Colt McCoy, and too little to energize a fanbase. Richardson won't make the Browns contenders—running backs just aren't valuable enough to do that, as everyone who watched Steven Jackson play for the Rams over the last decade can attest—but he will put up big numbers as a rookie and convince Browns fans that the future is just a quarterback away.

Which will be true—especially if that quarterback isn't Ryan Tannehill. Trading down is also an option for the Browns, if they're willing to accept they've been outmaneuvered thus far.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

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SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
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