Trent Richardson is the butt of many jokes. His playing career has not looked promising following a solid rookie campaign. Now after a year off from football following his preseason training camp release by the Oakland Raiders, Richardson has been given another opportunity to get his NFL career back on track. But it is not going to be an easy path to a roster spot.
The Baltimore Ravens have been a haven for reclamation projects over the years, and with general manager Ozzie Newsomes ties to Alabama, there is a pipeline to the Ravens. Rolando McClain is a Bama player who the Ravens picked up while he was down, and while that didn't really go so well, the Ravens and Ozzie look ready to take a peek at another former Tide player in Richardson.
I wouldn't dismiss him off immediately either, despite his track record. Just 25 years old, Richardson was a bonafide stud coming out of college. He had 283 carries for 1679 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns his senior year, and added 338 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air. Richardson was thought to be the best running back to come out since Adrian Peterson in 2007. Here are some college highlights:
After the Browns took him 3rd overall, he missed the preseason, undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove some cartilage fragments in his left knee. He still had a solid rookie season, compiling 267 attempts for 950 rushing yards, 51 receptions for 367 receiving yards, and 12 total touchdowns, albeit with a mediocre 3.6 Y/A. The Browns however, fired their coaching staff and front office following the season, and the new regime were not fans of Richardson, trading him to the Indianapolis Colts after just 2 games for a 1st round pick, where his career crashed and burned following the 2014 season. He was outplayed by Ahmad Bradshaw and Daniel Herron, and they did not make much of an effort to bring him back.
Here are some highlights from his rookie season:
Richardson must get back to what made him a high draft pick if he wants to stick on an NFL roster.
This article may be laughable a few months from now. Richardson may show up in camp and display the same flaws which made him a punchline in Indianapolis. Or he could show up in great shape, and show the vision and explosiveness which made NFL.com give him a 93.5 grade and ESPN give him a 97 grade entering the 2012 draft.
Ozzie is hoping it is the latter, which would make him look like a genius. If it is the former, than nothing ventured, nothing gained. The Trent Richardson from Bama and his rookie year showed elite speed, a killer stiff arm, a low center of gravity to push piles, top-notch change of direction, and the ability to bounce it outside when the holes close.
Mayock had this to say:
"I've been banging my head for two months that the Browns needed to draft Trent Richardson. ... They're saying this kid is so special, not only do we believe in him at four, but we're going to give away an extra pick to get a running back in the big-boy division. You play the Steelers, Ravens, Bengals -- bad weather, sloppy fields. What does this kid do for you? He keeps you in the game, he shortens the game, and he gives you a chance to win in the fourth quarter."
Drafting sites also were very impressed with him:
Richardson is as compact and coiled an athlete as the position has seen since Adrian Peterson. Richardson is explosive, powerful and balanced. He is a heady and instinctual player who is patient enough to wait for blocks and quick enough to cut backfield to daylight. Richardson has a strong core that he uses to break arm tackles and get physical leverage under blitzers in pass protection. He is a true three-down back who can be effective on screens.
WHAT HE BRINGS (ESPN.COM)
There's a good reason Richardson is only the seventh RB to come off the boards in the first five picks in the past 10 years. He's a complete football player. He's a power back who can grind out yards between the tackles, and he's quick enough to get outside to where he can make defenders miss. His ability to contribute on third down makes him that much more attractive considering the direction NFL offenses are heading.
Time will tell whether Richardson will be successful in the NFL. He has his work cut out for him to make the Ravens roster, with Justin Forsett, Javorius Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West all returning. If he shows the ability and skills which made him a high pick, the Ravens could have a real lead back without spending a high pick on a player like Derrick Henry or Ezekiel Elliot. A player who might have a higher ceiling than either of those players too.
Don't hold your breathe, because much will hang on Richardson's attitude and dedication. But don't dismiss the possibility out of hand either.