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Op-Ed: Trent Richardson — Biggest bust ever

By Vincent Gerace     Jan 27, 2015 in Sports
It is fair to say that 2012 3rd overall pick Trent Richardson is a bust. Going a step further, he is the biggest draft bust ever. So move over Ryan Leaf, and JaMarcus Russell and feel better when you look back at your own less than magical careers.
Getting those immediate comparisons out of the way quickly: JaMarcus Russell was terrible, no doubt. However, in his ineptitude he did spend all of his three seasons with the franchise that drafted him. He was also never inactive for a game in which he was healthy, though he was benched more than once. In Ryan Leaf’s case he spent three season with his original team (Chargers), was in camp with another franchise the next year (Buccaneers) before being signed by a third (Cowboys), and was brought into camp by a fourth (Seahawks) before being cut and ending his career. So Leaf actually was a part of five teams at one point or another which spanned across six inglorious seasons.
That being said, there’s Richardson — the 3rd overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns where he played the whole of his rookie season, which has been his best. After a campaign that saw the former Crimson Tide star amass 950 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, a Browns rookie record, things looked promising. However, the 2013 campaign started slowly. As result Richardson was shipped out to team up with the number 1 overall pick from his draft class, Andrew Luck, as the Colts traded their first selection in the next upcoming draft for Richardson. By this time in his career two franchises have spent number 1 picks on the ‘Bama product, and to date, he is the starting running back for neither of them.
Toting the load for Indianapolis from December on was Daniel “Boom” Herron; the 14th tailback taken as another member of the ’12 draft class along with Luck and Richardson. However, these two weren’t the only ball carriers selected that year. The 2012 NFL Draft saw 19 tailbacks selected over seven rounds. Richardson was the first with two others joining him in the first round and two in each following round sans the 6th which saw four of the position go. Two of these players have received no NFL carries, of the other 17 Richardson is dead last in yards per carry. A major stat that running backs are judged on and the number 3 overall pick from only two drafts ago is the worst at it in his whole draft class. Richardson is, however, 4th in total rushing amongst this crop of players, keeping in mind he has a substantially higher amount of attempts than most.
In a closer comparison to some of his 2012 Draft counterparts, Richardson would actually be out-rushed far and away if others were given his amount of touches. Richardson has carried the rock 614 times in his career in 46 games, with an average of 13.3 careers per game, a number that has gone down each of his three pro seasons. Those touches have netted him 2,032 rushing yards for his career for a 3.3 average yards per carry mark and 44.2 yards a game. He has only four rushes of 20 yards or more. Comparing those numbers to the 182nd pick in 2012, and 13th tailback selected, Cyrus Gray of the Kansas City Chiefs, Richardson is out done by almost a full yard per carry as Gray puts up 4.1 yards with each tote. Gray comes in last on this list in total rushing yards for a career but, if we consider his average and a attribute the same amount of carries Trent has to Gray he would have 2,517.4 yards for his carry, 485.4 more than the man picked 179 choices previous. Furthermore, Bernard Pierce is second to last on this list in yards per carry average to Richardson at 3.8, still half a yard better. If he were given the same amount of handoffs in his first 3 season he would have likely amassed 2,333 yards giving him 301 better than Richardson, selected 81 spots earlier.
In all of this statistical talk let us not forget possibly the most telling aspect of Richardson’s, still young and already questionable carry. He was a healthy scratch for the Colt’s last two playoff games. With playoff games being a one-and-done scenario for the losing team they can easily be considered the biggest game of the year and the former first rounder (essentially by two teams) was made to sit out both of them. In the divisional round match-up verses Denver he was originally slated to play special teams while “Boom” Herron got the starting nod, who was pick 5 round and 178 picks after the Alabama product. Even this demotion didn’t come to be as Indianapolis Head Coach Chuck Pagano and company opted to go with Michael Hill who was signed the Tuesday before the game. When asked about the scratching of T-Rich from the active roster Pagano Explained “Michael Hill was a special teams player and Trent — it's not any knock on Trent — but Trent's never been asked to be a special teams player." Ok, there’s one hard to believe answer. Next how about one featuring Zurlon Tipton, the other tailback who was activated in Ricahrdson’s absence with only 10 career carries before this year’s playoffs began?
Richardson commented on the situation as well, “That situation will never happen to me again. Anybody can quote me, today, because it’s never going to happen again.” Richardson was then listed as inactive for the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots the next Sunday. The explanation was “personal reasons.” Could these “personal reasons” really have been the case, yes they could have. Though it may be more realistic that the team was trying to do right by a player who has been a class act throughout and all around good guy who has never been an off the field problem by not trying to not create embarrassment for him because of his recent declaration that it would never happen again. More recent reports may suggest that the Indianapolis back was actually under the first part of a two game suspension during the championship. The reason for this, Richardson was not at a team walk-through because of a “very serious family emergency.” So the explanation has already changed from being inactive do to personal reasons to being suspended because of missing a team function due to personal reasons. Also, if the reason for missing the walk-through were so serious and family related it seems hard to believe that any player would be suspended by any coach.
The endorsement given by Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on the Heisman Trophy finalist was not all that great in itself following all of this, "The thing is, every situation is different. "Every player and how we deal with him is gonna be different. But he'll be lumped into that conversation with guys this offseason -- where's he fit? Where is he going? Is his arrow up, down, sideways, 45-degree angle? -- and we gotta figure all these things out." That being said, and unfortunately for a player who been very classy and upstanding about this whole thing, it appears that his personal reasons might be that he isn’t that good in the NFL.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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