Every once in a while, an athlete comes across the NFL Draft stage as a surefire all-around prospect who can’t miss. “Guaranteed” should be stamped on his jersey instead of a number. Trent Richardson was that player coming out of Alabama. In 2011, he rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was going to make an impact and be the face of a franchise for many years to come. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock called him, “The best tailback prospect since Adrian Peterson” in 2007, per the Star Tribune‘s Dan Wiederer. Mayock went on to say, “His size-speed ratio is great,” and, “He’s got tremendous feet for his size, really good balance and good vision.” These are the reasons the Cleveland Browns selected him with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
By the end of his rookie season, Richardson showed promise. As a starter, he rushed for 950 yards on 267 attempts and scored 11 touchdowns (3.6 yards per carry) – he also caught 51 passes on 70 targets for 367 yards and one score. Unfortunately, the 3.6 yards per carry average was a big problem for the Browns.
In 2013, Richardson played in just two games for the Browns, gained only 105 yards on 31 attempts for a (3.4 yards per carry) and did not score a single touchdown. The Browns traded him to Indianapolis and the Colts started him days later. I was at his first game in San Francisco. I saw a player who couldn’t see a hole when given and be dominated by Ahmad Bradshaw in rushing yards. As a Colts fan, I didn’t make much of it. He rushed for a touchdown, his 13 carries for 35 yards was inadequate, but I figured he would need time to get used to the playbook. I reassured myself that things would get better.
Boy, was I wrong.