18 September 2013

Why the Trent Richardson trade, albeit shocking, is not as crazy as it seems

If it was not for Colts owner Jim Irsay hyping this one up here, here, here and here, this may have been even more shocking as Isray's team has pulled off a move that has shaken (in some cases literally) the NFL landscape. They have traded their first round selection in next year's draft to the Cleveland Browns in return for running back Trent Richardson, Cleveland's first round selection of a year prior.

Without question is this a shocking move as you do not see teams trading top three picks, especially one whom the club traded up for, so early in his sophomore season, but I actually can understand what Cleveland is doing here.

Now, there is no question that the Browns are positioning themselves to take a quarterback early in the draft next year as they are pretty much giving up on 2012 in trading their most talented offensive player (although not their only talented weapon as Jordan Camerson has shown some flashes as tight end). Brandon Weeden has not looked like the answer whatsoever and considering this is a new organization running the show, they have no ties to him, or even to Richardson. They may end up getting the top overall pick straight up but now with a pair of first round picks, they'll have the ability to move up and take one of the multiple potential franchise quarterbacks (Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Tajh Boyd, among others).

And now to Richardson, I think there is little doubt that he has been overrated thus far in his career and he really has not been that impressive at all. Through his first 17 games, he has rushed the ball 298 times for 1,055 yards, which is a 3.5 yards-per-carry average. Try this stat on for size:
Elite company indeed (although Erict Rhett was great in Madden 98. Richardson has not shown that much explosiveness and has been much more of a plodder, a three yards and a cloud of dust kind of guy. Now check this stat out:
Again, not that impressive at all. Of course, everyone will say that the Browns have little else on offense and thus everyone will focus on him, but that does not excuse that stat above, especially considering Richardson was more of a punisher at Alabama (although with an excellent offensive line, mind you). And Brandon Weeden did have occasional success with the deep ball last year, and Richardson did have a fine offensive line with two excellent players in left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack. I mean, I love making excuses as much as the next guy, but there does come a point when facts start to get in the way. And I certainly would not say that Richardson has showed himself to be worthy of the third overall selection by a prior administration, not the current one.

For the Colts, they are paying a bit of a high price (1st round picks are valuable, even late ones, this isn't the NBA) and we have seen running backs be found under just about every nook and cranny, hence why they are not taken in the 1st round as much anymore. However, it does make sense to take a chance on Richardson when they have very little outside of Ahmad Bradshaw at running back, and have not found a consistent option really since Edgerrin James left. The hope here is that Richardson can explode around a much stronger supporting cast, including a star in the making at quarterback and a good receiving corps, although their offensive line is probably worst than the one in Cleveland. For a team looking to be a playoff team, if not more, I can see why they made this move.

All in all, I think both sides will make it work out. The Browns are tanking, and selling high on one of their valuable chips, and the Colts are gambling to take the next step. Now is that that crazy after all?

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