Trent Richardson: Worst running back ever?

Written by LaShawn Encarnacion aka The Dark Knight of Sports

In just three seasons, the former Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson has been on three teams and has done nothing with his career. In his stint with the Oakland Raiders, he obviously was not interested in playing as he missed an obvious “counter play,” which after replayed showed if Richardson followed the play exactly, he would have scored a touchdown for his team.

Former cornerback, now ESPN analyst, Ryan Clark was on First Take and opened up a whole case of critique on Richardson, even to go as far as to say “Worst running back EVER.” Here is the video of Clark’s critique:



For a running back drafted in the top three, it could very well be true. But lets look at the entire history … to validate or prove there is another worse than Richardson.

The key stat for all running backs that separates the greats from the busts is “Yards per attempts.” It is the bread and butter of evaluation of the position that is running back. Its as important to them as the QBR is important to evaluating a quarterback.

Ok back to Richardson’s number, 3.33 yards per rushing attempt. According to Pro Football Reference, that number is second only to one other. Michael Haddix, who played eight seasons in the NFL six with the Eagles and two with the Packers (3.01 yards per rushing attempt).

So by the key evaluation statistic, this proves that Clark was a little ahead of himself. But lets break Richardson’s fall from grace even deeper.

While he won his National Championship with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Richardson only led the S.E.C. conference in rushing once (2011), when he led in rushing attempts (283), rushing touchdowns (21), plays from scrimmage (312), touchdowns from scrimmage (24) and points scored (144). One season, all of these accomplishments does not necessarily tell you that its all Richardson alone. Take a look at that offensive line in 2011, they ALL are NFL players now and doing exceptionally well. Which proves once again that the offensive lineman is the most undervalued position on the football field.

The expectations about Trent Richardson were mixed going into that 2012 NFL Draft. If you listen to Ryan Clark’s critique, he mentions a conversation about Richardson to his head coach Mike Tomlin, who seem to NOT be buying into the kool-aid that is Trent Richardson.

So back to the question at hand, “Is Trent Richardson the worst running back in NFL history?” That can be debated according to what you choose to use as your arguing points. Statistically, it is no. According to supporting cast that got him the hype going into the 2012 NFL Draft, that is also a no.

So that brings up another question, “Is Trent Richardson one of the biggest bust ever in NFL history?” Well, some would say a player taken in the top three of ANY draft would be automatically presumed as a humongous bust. Players like Sam Bowie and Michael Olowokandi from the NBA to players in the NFL like JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf and Justin Blackmon.

When a team pays you $600,000 to leave and not play another down for their team, that is saying something and that something is “You stink. We do not want you here.” Only time will tell if Richardson may or may not be given another shot, but if there was a bet going on in Vegas if he plays in the NFL again, the safest bet in Vegas would be NO.


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