The word “draft bust” is quickly thrown around when used to describe an athlete that hasn't performed up to expectations in the NFL. There are a multitude of names that litter the lists of history that have come into the league with a great amount of hype, just to fall well short of those expectations. Early in the 2013-2014 season the Cleveland Browns traded away a recent top pick which resulted in a hail of criticism thrown their way. However, it looks like they may have made a move that will be lauded for time to come.
In 2012 the Cleveland Browns made two picks in the first round that had many individuals believing that the team was working hard to shore up its offensive woes. Quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson were both selected by a Browns team that hadn't known much offensive success in recent years. In retrospect history may tell a different story of these two players who are linked together and both struggling mightily at this point in their careers. Weeden is currently dealing with a tough starting battle while Richardson is struggling in a totally different way.
A little more than a month ago Richardson was involved in a rare early season trade when he was sent to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first round draft pick. Cleveland fans immediately went into a panic as they accused the team of tanking and throwing in the towel on this season. Interestingly enough the dialogue to this point as completely changed. As the Browns have began to surge, Richardson has begun to fade in a fashion that has many questioning his worth as a franchise running back.
When looking at the Indianapolis Colts this team is currently sitting in the 8th spot when it comes to rushing yards per game. Quite interesting when you look at how their prime running back performs when compared to others on the roster. Right now, Richardson has earned 228 yards on 75 attempts and two touchdowns. He also have not had a run of 20 plus yards while on this team. Compare that to Donald Brown's numbers, who was once the starting tailback for the Colts. Brown has 33 attempts with 195 yards gained with 1 touchdown and 1 run over 20 yards. Brown is averaging 5.9 yards per attempt in comparison to Richardson's 3 yards per run. When averaging in his runs while on the Brown's this season that number only increases to 3.1.
Richardson's numbers have him sitting towards the bottom of every statistical category that is available for starting players with rushing yards. He's 42nd in terms of yards per gain, 20th in total rushing yards and with only two touchdowns and zero runs of twenty yards or more he's also amongst the worst in those areas as well.
Richardson was brought over to from the Browns along with his $20.4 million dollar contract. Brown, on the other hand, is in the fifth year of a contract that is worth a little more than $11 million dollars. The financial ramifications of Richardson's struggles stand to have a drastic effect on the Colts; let alone they gave away a first round draft pick that could be used in other key positions.
If this trend continues for Richardson then the Colts as a whole will continue to suffer because many expected him to take some of the pressure off of Andrew Luck. While the Colts still have an effective overall running game that has been by committee as they do not have the one key player that can take the ball in big game moments. With Reggie Wayne going down to a season ending injury Indianapolis will have to lean on their big play offensive weapons even more and right now they don't have much to start with.
Cleveland Brown fans were immediately upset with their team for trading away Trent Richardson at the start of the season. However, when history books look back on that move that was made in September and the struggles that Richardson has dealt with, then the thought process may be entirely different.