Michael Conroy, Associated Press
Alabama running back Trent Richardson answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 24, 2012.

INDIANAPOLIS — Trent Richardson says running backs are undervalued, and he doesn't like it.

Few have been drafted early in recent years as many NFL teams have shifted to a running back-by-committee approach. Richardson, considered the top back in this year's class, believes he's an every-down back worthy of a high pick. Last season, he ran for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns for Alabama and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. He also caught 29 passes for 338 yards and three more scores.

The only running back chosen in the first round last year was Richardson's former Crimson Tide teammate, Mark Ingram. In 2010, C.J. Spiller, Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best were taken in the first round. Three backs were taken in the first round in 2009 and five in 2008.