“It was a lot of preparation just getting ready for the draft,” said Richardson, who was one of many prospects the league invited to New York for the draft. “I was really anxious, not so much nervous, until you got to the draft. I was getting my suit together and seeing what I was going to wear, making sure my little girls had their dresses, and making sure the family was right and making the flights for the draft, who was coming down and really just trying to get everything together for this moment, where these kids’ live are going to be changed.”
Richardson remembered, after arriving at Radio City Music Hall on the draft’s first day, how the realization began sinking in that he could “actually be picked in the top five.”
“It’s crazy,” Richardson said. “You see this stuff on TV, but you’re actually here right now. You’re doing all the stuff that these guys did years before you, and guys want to do it years after you. It’s crazy, man. It’s a dream come true.”
Richardson did not have to wait long to be chosen. Originally, the Browns held the No. 4 pick, but in the final hours before the draft, the team pulled off a trade that sent picks to Minnesota for the No. 3 overall selection, and the right to chose Richardson behind quarterbacks Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) and Robert Griffin III (Washington).
“When I heard about the trade, I knew right then that I was going No. 3,” Richardson said. “This place here is a hungry place, and I can understand why they picked me because I’ve shown in every attribute of my game that I can play and I’m ready to play for this city. The whole time, when they traded, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to get past the Browns at all.
“You hear stuff about backs not going top five or top 10, but it made up a lot that I was able to go top three and I had a good year last year. Hopefully, I brought the value up for the running backs this year.”
Richardson was so excited to hear his name called that rather than shaking the hand of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Heisman-Trophy finalist embraced the league’s top executive in a hug. The following day, Richardson met the Browns’ coaching staff in Berea, and that is when he realized something special had happened.
“I just got to work and it was like, ‘Man, I can’t believe I’m here; it’s crazy,’” Richardson recalled. “In the moment, I just seized all of it. I relished in it, and just took it in. Knowing that mom doesn’t have to work again, knowing that my kids are not going to want for anything that they ever need, it’s just a blessing.”