By Mike Russo


     Let's face it most of Cleveland fell in love with Hillis after his year he had 2 seasons ago.  He was highly productive rushing for over 1500 yds and 10 touchdowns. I for one saw a guy who had no game film on him and a chance behind a great offensive line to make something out of nothing.  I remember Harrison being named the starting tailback before the season started and due to ineffectiveness and injury Hillis got the shot.  However this guy was and always will be a fullback with a lot of upside.  Catching the ball out of the backfield is something a lot of running backs do not posses in their skill set.  So Peyton took it and ran with it literally and figuratively.  Case in point he followed that up with a horrendous 2011 season. The guy somehow finds himself on the cover of the world famous video game Madden 12. Comes into training camp all built up on the productivity he experienced the previous season.  Missed a bunch of camp with little injury problems.  The season then starts and he seems to look back to 2011 form especially against Indianapolis with 2 touchdowns.  Then it happened all downhill from there.  I call it the Madden curse many agree with me, some don't see it that way.  Either way you look at it the man was not the possessed determined for every yard back the rest of the season except once in the final Ravens game.  We had "strepgate" where Montario Hardesty who I think makes a fine running back replaced him for the Miami game.  Not Hardesty's best game where he experienced 5 drops, in his defense it was raining. Kind of.  Then shortly after returning from "strepgate" there went the hammy again.  He then missed several games.  When he finally came back he was having trouble even getting to the 50  yard mark in game s until everyone in Cleveland hopped back on the Hillis Express when he rushed for over 100 yards against the Ravens.  He's back!  Not so fast, he did not have another meaningful game the rest of the year, and was benched even for attitude issues.  This brings us to the off-season and eventual ending to the Peyton Hillis era in Cleveland.  We still made out got rid of Brady Quinn for a  thousand yard back that scored us many touchdowns, however, we still went 4-12 Go Browns. 

   To me the Browns didn't really lose Hillis, they gave up on him. He made it clear he wasn't into being a Brown in many ways.   He was never a team guy last year and it was evident, how many congratulatory handshakes did you witness after touchdowns or anything good in Hillis' favor last season? I saw very few.  Rumors have it that he didn't stay with the team on saturday nights at the hotel before home games.  He missed a game for strep throat when most guys would use their sheer will and passion for the sport to play win or lose.  I've always heard physical activity is good to knock a sickness out of you.  I kind of expected the downslide in production this past season due to having a keen eye for a great running back, which Hillis was not nor will he ever be.  However, all this in my mind was great moves by the Browns clearing the way to either pick up a great back or draft one at the number four spot in this past April's draft. 

      Late in the afternoon Thursday draft day I heard rumors of many teams looking to move up for this Trent Richardson fella.  I love the kid thought he could change any franchise into a dominant threat on the ground.  Then around 1 and a half hours before the draft started I received many tweets that the Browns in actuality were the team to move up to the 3rd spot to be able to secure drafting the franchise running back of our future.  "With the 3rd pick in the 2012 NFL draft the Cleveland Browns select Trent Richardson."  And the crowd goes wild.  Here we go Brownies chants roaring through the halls at Cleveland Browns stadium.  Trent Richardson immediately a trending topic in Cleveland on Twitter.  I for one was very proud. 

     Now as we progress let's analyze this pick in comparison.  First things first Richardson is a rookie and will spend at least the next 4 years in brown and orange.  Hopefully longer.  He has the same receiving ability out of the backfield as Hillis maybe better.  He has absolutely zero fumbling problems.  He sheds tacklers instead of trying to barrel them over, leap frog them, or the famous Hillis "no juke."  He is now and always has been a running back.  His guns are bigger than Hillis' who so many females fell in love with 2 years ago.  He is much faster, and way more agile.  He is of championship breed winning two National Titles at Alabama, where many reguarded him as a better all purpose back than the previous Heisman winning running back Mark Ingram.  This kid will immediately make an impact in the AFC North where running the ball in essential as proven over the years by the Steelers and Ravens. 

     The first pick of the 2012 Browns draft will be remembered as a great pick and possibly in the near future will be noted as a franchise changing pick.  If you don't believe so look at the highlights Richardson created in his 3 years at Alabama.  All in all I view Hillis leaving as a plus and the draft of Richardson with the 3rd pick a plus.  Chances are this pick will be right up there with your beautiful prom date you had in high school.  The later Mitchell Schwartz pick should help on the line and hopefully we can still get Eric Steinbach back in brown and orange.  I call it a win win situation.  My initial prediction for the Browns is major improvement in the record area I say at least 7 wins even with a terribly hard schedule. 

     A special thank you to LG for allowing me to write for Cleveland Sports 360. A thank you to all who read and comment. I will be writing again soon, follow me on Twitter @ClevlndsCapo21 for sports talk uncensored by  yours truly.  Thanks again!

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