Bill Barnwell is making sense:
What is it going to take before teams realize that spending money on running backs is a misuse of precious resources? Both these teams have enjoyed success from backs on the cheap over the past couple of seasons, and they both totally ignored that process in targeting running backs in the first round. The Browns might not have had much fun with Peyton Hillis last season, but remember that he looked to be a franchise back in 2010 and only cost Cleveland Brady Quinn, who was a candidate to be released. Did that convince the Browns to go back to the well and try to find the next Peyton Hillis for $500,000? Nope! Instead, they used the third pick on Trent Richardson, who will be spinning his wheels in the backfield next year behind an unimproved offensive line. Of the 14 running backs who have been taken in the top five since 1990, only a handful have delivered on their promise. Most have flashes of brilliance mixed with injuries, which is exactly what you get from guys like Jerome Harrison, who cost nothing.
Taking a running back with a #3 pick in itself is insane; trading up to do it is even stupider. And it’s not just that running backs are inherently unpredictable and injury-prone. It’s that — the romantic attachment so many still have to “ground-and-pound” notwithstanding — the quality of a team’s running game has almost no correlation with a team’s ability to win. Having a good running game is like stealing bases effectively in modern baseball; it doesn’t hurt, exactly, but it’s of marginal importance. If you can pass and/or defend against the pass effectively you don’t need a high-quality running game, and if you can’t move the ball through the air a good running game won’t help you. (The Giants, Super Bowl champions with a below-average running game, are hardly rare.) For a team with as many fundamental holes as the Browns to worry about their running game to the extent of wasting a #3 overall pick on it is bizarre, and is also pretty clear evidence that the Browns are unlikely to significantly improve anytime soon.