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Colts First Round Pick? Essentially, it's Trent Richardson

The Colts traded this year's first round pick (which ended up being the 26th overall pick) for running back Trent Richardson. We all know how that worked out last year, but how does it look now?

Gregory Shamus

Well, you all know the deal with Trent Richardson, and I don't need to explain it to you.  I don't have to mention about how he had a disastrous first year with the Colts.  I don't have to explain to you how the Colts don't have a first round pick this year because of that trade.

But then again, it's the night of the first round of the NFL Draft, and it was an extremely quiet night for the Colts.  The reason was because of the trade for Trent Richardson.  After week two of the 2013 season, the Colts traded their 2014 first round pick to get Richardson, who was the Browns third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and who rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie season.  Richardson had a terrible season with the Colts, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and scoring only 3 touchdowns on the ground, getting benched in favor of Donald Brown as the season went on.

The Colts first round pick ended up being the 26th overall pick, which the Browns held.  They eventually used that extra selection, plus an additional third rounder, to get Johnny Manziel, which was quite a move.  And speaking of the Browns, in his first draft as their general manager, Ray Farmer got a top quarterback, a top cornerback, and an additional 2015 first round pick tonight.  That's pretty impressive.

Several have wondered what the Colts would have done if Richardson were still there, and there would have been several options.  For comparison's sake, here's the picks around where the Colts would have picked (26th overall):

Overall Player Position Team
22 Johnny Manziel QB Browns
23 Dee Ford DE Chiefs
24 Darqueze Dennard CB Bengals
25 Jason Verrett CB Chargers
26 Marcus Smith DE Eagles
27 Deone Bucannon S Cardinals
28 Kelvin Benjamin WR Panthers
29 Dominique Easley DT Patriots
30 Jimmie Ward S 49ers

As you can see, there were several cornerbacks, two really good safeties, a good defensive end, some good receivers, and some defensive linemen available around the Colts' pick.  The Colts really could have used several of those players, especially one of the safeties.

Richardson certainly has many eyes on him for the 2014 season, especially as fans watch players go by the pick the Colts would have had but instead traded for a guy who didn't produce in his first season with the team.  Richardson is well aware of that, saying a few weeks ago that:

"I think we do have a first round pick. That's me."

He added that:

"When you look at football - and, I've been playing football my whole life - I never thought that it would become a struggle for me. And, I'm never going to let that be a struggle for me again."

After a week of offseason workouts, Richardson mentioned how much he had learned:

"The offseason 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. To know the real actual plays, what they're meant for, what's the real concept. 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 felt like I remembered the playbook last year. I know it now but I remembered the playbook last year but I'm learning a lot this year. If you can really break that down, I'm learning a lot this year. As much as I've learned in this last week, much more than I learned last year."

He also talked about how the workouts were going, saying:

"Just to get back at it and just to be out here with my teammates, it's a blessing. To be taking everything slow and to know the real concept of the plays, not just going week to week and just really knowing why the quarterback is doing this or why they're thinking that or why do we got these audibles set up in this play or why the offensive line is making this call, not just if they make this call, I go that way and make sure I block this person. It's way different. It's much easier and it's slowing down a lot so it's making the game much better for me."

There are plenty of reasons why Richardson struggled last year.  I do believe that one of the biggest ones was that he didn't have time to learn the offense, and I do expect Richardson to have a good season in 2014.  In other words, in no way am I giving up on this pick yet.  But Richardson will have all the eyes on him this year, because, as he alluded to, he's essentially the Colts' first round pick.  Whether that was the best use of that pick or not remains to be seen, and Richardson needs to prove that it indeed was.