We, as football fans have all watched and waited for the next big thing to come out of college to join the ranks of the NFL. Many are good, few are great, even less are legends. But then we run into the word, we all know, and loathe.
The word instantly brings a player or two (or two dozen) to mind in a flash. Faster than a pass from Dan Marino, we go into a debate on who was the worst. Who had the big upsides, who was expected to be the star QB, the legendary play making WR, or the bulldozer TD machine RB. It is a word that we never hope our team has labeled next to their draft pick.
But here we are. And there is a player that deserves recognition in being the biggest bust conversation. Trent Richardson from Alabama. We can ask if he could possibly be the biggest disappointment as a running back in NFL history. I think that statement is a very accurate assessment.
When Richardson came out of college the vast majority of people felt he was going to be pretty darn good. He was strong and quick, he went to a big name SEC school in Alabama. He crushed his opponents for 35 rushing TDs and 3130 yards in his 3 year career there. He scoured the gridiron for 5.8 YPC. He was going to be “that guy.” The Browns drafted him in 2012, at the number 3 spot, before Michael Floyd, Alshon Jeffery, and All-Pro RB Doug Martin as well.
Then 3 YPC happened. And missing holes happened. And finally the trade happened. And suddenly, Richardson was on the outside looking in. Recently, the Ravens signed the journeyman RB to a deal. With a below average offensive line, that pushed their backfield to only 92 YDs/ game, they are fortunate to have a big armed QB in Joe Flacco, that always keeps teams on their toes, for the big play. But Richardson hasn’t given any teams a reason to worry about him regardless of who is throwing the ball for his team.
The first thing we have to consider, if we are to discuss about the worst bust as a running back in the NFL, we have to really look at it all. What kind of time frame are we going to give a player to considered a bust? 10 games, a 3 YD rushing average, a 3 year time-frame?
When he first went to the Browns, I fell for it, and genuinely thought this kid was going to be a beast on the field, like the majority of others did.
Trent Richardson looked like he had so much potential. And so much skill to become a 1300-1400 YD back. Richardson wasn’t worn down, after 8-9 seasons of punishment, like many veterans do after some time. He simply never got off to make it to the next level. When he was playing as a rookie in 2012, he wasn’t horrendous, he had 6 games of 80+ yards on the ground. Which isn’t terrible. He ended his rookie season with 11 TDs on the ground. Which was good for 7th in the NFL on a whole. He had promise.
Obviously, we know, he didn’t have a great opportunity from the start of his career, when he was drafted by the Browns. But, no player that is grabbed that high in a draft, is going to a good team. There is a reason that the team is drafting in that spot. They are expecting the player they draft to be the guy who comes in and changes the mindset of the organization, to be the guy who makes them excitable for the fans, the player that gives them hope of a successful season and possibly become a guy for years to come to lead them in the playoffs and further.
The running back position, opposed to many other skilled positions, is typically the position to adjust the quickest at. If a player doesn’t continue to find his holes, or hit his speed pretty fast in the NFL, then they likely are going to not succeed at the next level. Of course we know the usual situations, that all running backs wear down as they get older. Which has been seen over and over in the annals of NFL history. But 29 games, and only 25 years old? Trent Richardson had become a 3.1 yd/carry rusher?
No, he’s just a bad RB. End of story.
Now, 4 years later, after 614 carries and just 17 TDs, he has already played poorly for the Browns, Colts, and never even took the field for the Raiders, and now he is going to play with the Ravens. Maybe now that he has a chance to play with team like Ravens, who are a team that has been usually more RB friendly, he could be a better RB. But after this disastrous start to his young career, it is going to be very trying to come back from that. He was fully at fault for his poor career, he cannot point a finger at anyone. There are no more excuses for him as a RB in the NFL. This should be the last time he is given an opportunity to be a starting back in the league.
When the Browns, who have had their fair share of bad RBs over the last several years. Then the Raiders, who have been winning just an average of 4.5 games/year since 2012, have decided that a player doesn’t fit their teams, there has to be a reason. These are franchises that have had plenty of struggles and they still decided, that having almost anything else is better.
As a RB, he lacks the true RB vision that is needed. He was able to make a few catches in the flats, but that is where it ends for him. He never panned out anywhere close to where he was expected to be for his draft slot. We could line him up with the Ryan Leafs, Jamarcus Russells, as some of the all-time biggest busts in NFL history. He was a great college player, there is no question to that. But he never made the big adjustment to playing in the NFL, and at the highest standard of play. He always had the excellent physical strength and ability to bounce off tackles. It was his complete lack of vision. He misses holes seemingly all of the time.
This is a guy who went at the #3 slot in the 2012 draft. Behind only QB Andrew Luck and RGIII, who both had the world on a silver platter at that time. The world couldn’t get enough of either of those guys. So to be drafted that high, you really better be much, much more than a 400 YD runner. As stated, Doug Martin and Alshon Jeffery were picked after him, and we could easily say, they were far and away better picks than Richardson. Let’s not forget what makes this even more ridiculous. Being that he was drafted so high in the extremely important 1st round, but then was also then dealt off to the Colts for a 1st rounder in 2014, makes him a double bust.
There obviously, were several other RBs that fell apart and ended up in the slush pile of RB busts. The Jets had Blair Thomas, who was drafted 2nd overall in 1990 and his career as a player never panned out. Lawrence Phillips, from Nebraska, was a huge bust, and Karim Abdul Jabar, was a very low yardage gainer in the Miami run he had.
We can question, how does one judge a players worth? Their entire career, what they’ve done most recently, the value that they brought to the team, or how they were acquired? If Richardson was drafted in the 4-6 round range, I’d think nothing at all of his dismal career. It, for me, is the fact of his high draft spot and what he only produced from being taken that high in the 2012 draft class.
We need to remember, just because a player has excellent speed and is a great player in college, doesn’t mean they can make it to the elite level. The NFL is a league made of really amazing players, to stick around and hang with them, is very hard. Trent Richardson has been just bad at the professional level of football, and that is a fact. Considering his expectations, when he came into the league, I think this is true.
According to NFL Network, Richardson has the 2nd-worst career rushing average of any player with at least 500 carries since all the way back to the 1960s.
Simply put, Richardson, has been the worst high picked RB of all time according to VegasTopDogs experts..