This season marks Trent Richardson’s last chance to claim he isn’t an NFL draft bust. While many consider him an unmitigated bust already (“Two yards per carry!”), he’s still a physical specimen that will make just about any coaching staff think they can work with him. And there are some mitigating factors for his struggles including being traded in the middle of the season a year ago, but this year with a full off-season with the Indianapolis Colts, if T-Rich is unable to finally put it together, it’s hard to imagine there will be many in the league who will hold out hope. For Richardson’s part, he’s always sounded like a willing, coachable player.
“I’m learning a lot, as much as I’ve learned in this last week, [it's] much more than I learned last year,” Richardson said, via the Colts’ website. “The off-season is very important because you have a chance to vibe with your team, to build that respect, to build that trust and then to build that team chemistry with your offensive line, with your quarterback. Knowing the concept of a play is the biggest thing because when it comes down to it, if you just remember what you’re doing, that’s not good enough. I remembered the playbook last year. I know it now. I’m learning a lot this year.”
In a lot of ways I’ll always hope Richardson can prove he’s better than what he showed in his second year in the league. Despite his struggles and my hindsight happiness that the Browns have a first-round draft pick in their arsenal this year, it doesn’t have anything to do with disliking Trent Richardson. Richardson seems to work really hard and strives to be an elite player on the field. That’s really about as much as any fan can ask of any player.
So if he doesn’t reach that goal, even as he looks to attain it in a Colts uniform, my feelings will always be more of sympathy than anything else. I rooted hard for Richardson when he was a member of the Cleveland Browns, and he never did anything to make me root any less for him other than get traded. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the Browns and Colts both “won” that trade.
I’m hoping that off-season education translates for Trent Richardson. His status as an NFL draft bust depends on it.