Looking Through the Hype: Why Trent Richardson Deal Wasn’t So Bad

(Written by Sean Potts)

As you know by now, the Browns traded last year’s third overall pick to the Colts for their 2014 first round pick. The NFL usually lacks in season blockbusters, so this was a complete surprise to everyone, especially Browns fans.

While this trade was shocking, I believe it was the right move for the Browns. I don’t think Trent Richardson is a franchise changing player and the Browns are a team clearly not close to winning a super bowl. I’m glad the Browns new GM is willing to admit that the past moves were terrible and clean house.

Here is my take on why The Browns don’t need T-Rich:

I’m not sure T-Rich is that good to begin with…

It wouldn’t be a first time a running back taken in the top 10 of the NFL draft turned out to be a bust: Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown and Cedric Benson, just to name a few. To be fair, running backs are by far the most dependent position in the NFL. You need a good offensive line, a passing game that opposing teams are afraid of, and a scheme that fits your running style. Most of those are probably not there for top 10 picks, and by the time a team fixes those holes, a running back is probably on the down side of his career.

I think a lot of that applies to Trent, as the Browns have no real passing threat thanks to Brandon Weeden. I wanted to include that part to be clear I’m not going to put 100% of the blame on T-Rich for his lack of production. Let’s take a look at some numbers:

Running backs at Alabama under Nick Saban:

1383 yards 10 TD 5.9 ypc – Glenn Coffee

1658 yards 17 TD 6.1 ypc – Mark Ingram

875 yards 13 TD 5.5 ypc – Mark Ingram

1679 yards 21 TD 5.9 ypc – Trent Richardson

1322 yards 17 TD 6.5 ypc – Eddie Lacy

NFL YPC:

Coffee – 2.7

Ingram – 3.8

Richardson – 3.5

Nothing about Trent’s numbers really stand out here. Glenn Coffee and Mark Ingram are not good NFL players. Ingram is especially disappointing considering he has Drew Brees as his QB and much lesser touted RB’s have put up quite nice stats in that offense. Trent Richardson, Kavell Conner

This does not mean T-Rich is not a good NFL player, but it does make a case that we could have got overly excited about watching some talented athletes run behind an overpowering Alabama offensive line. Trent’s career long rush is 27 yards. He averaged 3.5 ypc last year. According to profootballoutsiders.com’s  DYAR, or Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement, Trent was the 37th ranked RB in 2012, between Alex Green and Jonathan Dwyer.

It’s still too early to write him off, but there is little evidence so far to suggest that he is an elite NFL running back. Aside from not being totally convinced of T-Rich’s talent, I don’t think RB’s are all that valuable in NFL to begin with.

The league has taken a dramatic pass happy turn the last 10 years. I don’t want to waste too much time giving stats on just how ridiculously pass heavy the league is now; the sportscenter dopes have that covered. One of the best running backs to every play the game, who had the 2nd best rushing season in the history of the NFL made his team a fringe contender with no real chance to win the Super Bowl last year. AP and those Vikings are currently 0-2. They’re not good because they don’t have a legit QB, despite having the games best RB.

Here are the last 7 Super Bowl teams starting RB’s:

Ray Rice, Frank Gore, Amhad Bradshaw, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, James Starks, Rashard Mendenhall, Joseph Addai, Pierre Thomas, Willie Parker, Edgerrin James (WAY past his prime), Amhad Bradshaw, Laurence Maroney, Thomas Jones, Joseph Addai

Now the QBs:

Flacco, Kaepernick, Eli Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Big Ben, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Big Ben, Kurt Warner, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Rex Grossman (seriously).

These are a bunch of mediocre to terrible RB’s and a bunch of elite to future hall of fame QB’s (and somehow Rex Grossman). Rex, who clearly stands out as the QB exception, did not even have a hall of fame caliber RB carrying him. He had an all-time great defense and a fluke, down NFC year to thank for that SB trip.

The point is that every team’s goal is to win a championship. There is overwhelming evidence that in order to win a championship, you need an elite QB. Building your team around a RB is a dated philosophy and one that wasn’t going to lead to a super bowl for the Browns.

This year is supposed to be a strong QB draft class and the Browns now have the ammo to acquire a franchise QB they so desperately need.

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2 responses to “Looking Through the Hype: Why Trent Richardson Deal Wasn’t So Bad

  1. Hey Sean, pretty well put article. My question for you:
    Did they really need to get rid of T-Rich to get the long coveted QB? This team had plenty of draft picks prior to acquiring T-Rich. The Colts are going to be a good team, so that 1st round pick is going to be in the second half. They already had a bunch of picks to make moves in the draft.

    Wouldn’t you want T-Rich to pair with a Bridgewater type to go along with Cameron and Gordon?

  2. Thanks for the response japuli2, here is why I think they decided to move T-Rich:

    I think the obvious and popular answer is that they did this to tank. But, I’m not sure that’s entirely true. You have to keep in mind that they cleaned house in the front office and brought in Mike Lombardi to make the decisions. Some people had Trent as the best RB prospect since AP and others view him as more of an ordinary player. I have to believe Lombardi and his regime probably believe the latter. The Browns have had him for over a year now and they must have just not seen anything to convince them he was an AP type player. This doesn’t mean he can’t be an excellent RB, but when you take a RB in the 1st round, he needs to be franchise changing in the way Peterson was. There are plenty of very solid RB’s you can get through the draft, or via free agency (Ben Tate).

    Even if they did think he was a really good player, the Browns clearly decided to hit the reset button. Running Backs don’t have a very long shelf life. By the time the Browns go through the rebuilding process and are *hopefully* contenders T-Rich would probably be on the down side of his career. I think they decided they would rather have the 1st round pick asset as opposed running Richardson into the ground while they rebuild.

    PS – I’m not so sure the Colts are going to win more than 7 or 8 games. They have a brutal upcoming schedule (@SF,Seattle,@Houston,Denver in their next 6) and were a lucky 11 win team last year.

    -Sean

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