The Case Against Trent Richardson

February 24th, 2012

Now Joe has gone on record for years that drafting a running back in the first round is a terrible investment because, as a team, a club is paying top dollar for a player with a limited shelf life due to the physical punishment running backs receive.

Throw in the fact that there are so many good running backs drafted in late rounds or even pulled off the streets as a free agent, it’s much better to draft a cornerback or an offensive linemen with a first-round pick as teams get far more bang for the buck.

Given how horrible the Bucs defense was last year, how the team could be looking at filling three holes in the secondary this offseason, drafting a running back — some fans are pining for Alabama’s Trent Richardson — is simply irresponsible.

It seems the numbers crunchers at agree with Joe.

While their analysis of drafting running backs high in the first round is hidden behind a satanic paywall, ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas cracked open the door a bit to give readers a glimpse of the FootballOutsiders’ article.

The five leading rushers over the last five seasons are Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson and Michael Turner. Those five have combined for two playoff wins as starting running backs (and that doesn’t include two playoff victories Turner had as a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson with the 2007 Chargers).

The column then points to the backfields of the two Super Bowl teams. The New York Giants had Ahmad Bradshaw (a seventh-round pick) and Brandon Jacobs (a fourth-round pick). The New England Patriots had a pair of undrafted running backs in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead as well as third-round pick Stevan Ridley.

Well, you can go back a few Super Bowls and see the same evidence. Sure, the Steelers drafted Rashard Mendenhall in the first round and he’s not come close to living up to his first-round billing. Hell, the Steelers won a Super Bowl with Mendenhall on injured reserve, and two years ago against the Packers, Mendenhall may have given the Super Bowl away when he fumbled deep into Packers territory in the fourth quarter when it appeared the Steelers were about to score.

Add to the fact the Bucs already have a running back, LeGarrette Blount. (It’s not his problem he had a clueless offensive who didn’t know how to use him.) Shoot, Blount had a grand total of five carries in the season opener — FIVE! That is no less than outrageous!

Could the Bucs use another running back for depth? Sure, a speedster like LaMichael James who is lightning quick and can catch out of the backfield (so can Blount).

No. Just no to Trent Richardson. The Bucs have way too many holes on defense.

52 Responses to “The Case Against Trent Richardson”

  1. Rrsrq Says:

    There is no real case against Trent Richardson if Claiborne and Blackmon are off the board. EitherMen’s will make this team better

  2. Apple Roof Cleaning Says:

    Tampa already has Thunder and Lightning in Blount and Madu.
    Now, if we will just give them the dam ball, upgrade our O Line a little, and get a tight end who can block, we are there.
    We don’t need no Trent Richardson. Even IF he benches 500 and Squats 650 for reps, he can’t run through holes that don’t exist.


    RB’s have short shelf lives. First rounders need to be around for the long haul. I am really hoping they can score LaMichael James in the third.

    With coaches seeing if Blount can improve, that would be a great 1-2 punch, but, Blount needs to improve, and not just with receiving.

  4. Matthew Says:

    Finally! Thank you Joe, for posting an article which backs up what I’ve been “discussing” with several other fans on here for a while now. Richardson is solid but it’s a new league & spending a Top 5 pick on a RB when we have far bigger glaring needs elsewhere is just dumb.

    “The five leading rushers over the last five seasons are Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson and Michael Turner. Those five have combined for two playoff wins as starting running backs”

    Cite all the HOF RBs all you want but this league is no longer the 1970’s, 80’s or 90’s. It’s a passing league & the Bucs need CBs, WRs. Just say no to Richardson.

  5. Buddhaboy Says:

    I think the bucs should make a strong push for Mike Tolbert. That dude is beastly, and he has 21 touchdowns in the last two years and he is only 26. Plus he is a killer on sh0rt yardage….Throw the book at him and get him….IMHO

  6. FlBoy84 Says:

    Would be happy with James, but really like Martin out of Boise State. Very quick, great feet and still has the toughness to run over guys when needed as well.

  7. Bobby Says:

    Martin is the guy. All around back. Much better blocker than James.

  8. Gavster Says:

    I wouldn’t mind Trent Richardson . He’s pretty fast and he’s a much better runner than Blount ( and by that I mean short yardage and such.) and also this guy had big games against sec defenses so I don’t see how it could hurt. But I would rather trade down a spot or two and get Courtney upshaw

  9. J 2.0 Says:

    We don’t need to spell Blount with a replica in Tolbert. Getting Tolbert would be like getting rid of Blount or signing Derrick Ward again. I like both James and Martin. We don’t need Richardson I have said it all along. We will draft Claiborne (even though I am not sold I am getting used to it) and might not take offenses until 3rd rd. Dom has a history of double dipping in the draft at DT, DE, WR, and maybe now CB.

    I do find it ludacris to suggest that you can’t win a Super Bowl with a premier RB. Even though it is now a “Passing League” these types of things are cyclical. I think RB’s are prima donna’s and require too much of a financial investment that can hurt the team in signing other needs. I love the Giants last year. I think Williams and Benn can be comparable to Nicks and Manningham w/ proper coaching. We just need to find a Cruz. Sanu isn’t Cruz but is familiar with Schiano and might work out in the NFL if available at 37.


    I just looked at some Martin highlights. Looks like a great back. I agree about his feet too. I guess, the worry might be about his level of competition on a week to week basis. But, some guys excel on any level. I’d be stoked about him or LMJ.

  11. J 2.0 Says:

    Ithink we would have to take Martin in the 2nd Rd whereas I think we could get James in the 3rd

  12. Bobby Says:

    The worry with James would be if he can be a third down back. He has to be able to block and he’s a little light in the ass to do that on the pro level.

  13. jvato24 Says:

    Tolbert is not like Blount … thats just stupid … Why because he is over 240 LBS ???

    TOlbert is actually a good short yardage back and was a great blocker for Rivers … 21 TDs in 2 seasons with a 1st RB on the roster !!

    So if the Bucs dont get Tolbert … Just go to the draft … PAss on Richardson in the 1st … Martin gets drafted before we pick in the 2nd ..

    Bucs take who then to back up Blount ?? LM James ?? I hope his scrawny 180 LB ass can block for Freeman.

    The point is with Tolbert on the team you can pick a RB that is a change of pace as he wont have to carry the load if Blount gets hurt jumpin over a cheerleader.

  14. BamBamBuc Says:

    Rrsrq…. there IS an argument against Richardson if Claiborne AND Blackmon are off the board when we draft. That would most likely mean that Luck, RGIII, Blackmon and Claiborne are off the board and at that point we should draft Kalil. Anytime you have the chance to get a top flight left tackle (or bookend right tackle) you do it. If Penn can’t play RT, then we play Kalil there. Otherwise, you plug Kalil in at LT and move Penn over to RT. That alone would improve the play of Blount, Free, and everyone else due to bigger running lanes, longer pass protection, etc.

  15. Kyle Says:

    Martin was the product of crappy competition. James is better and faster and a great receiver out of the backfield. I’ve watched Martin live and the other back out of bsu impressed me more than this guy. Tampa better not draft him or Blount will have to punch that bronco in the face too.

  16. J 2.0 Says:

    Tolbert is going to be too expensive for a short yardage back. Also, with out OL who says Tolbert will be successfull at short yardage? He just smells like a Derrick Ward type of signing to me. I’m going to refrain from name calling though, it is only game guy, calm down.

  17. Adam Says:

    personally, I think you the FA route for a corner. Get someone who already knows how to play. See if you can trade for Asante Samuel in Philly or something. I don’t want some college kid getting his OJT at the expense of my season tickets.

  18. Buddhaboy Says:

    Tolbert is no Ward…Put on the hightlights J2o….Live a little

  19. Buddhaboy Says:

    poor video, but you get the point…Plus he has swagger…

  20. Bobby Says:

    @Kyle…..Is that why everyone has him ranked above James?? Martin is a beast…period. That’s like saying Ray Rice was the product of crappy competition. Lame….

  21. gotbbucs Says:

    One thing I will bet money on is that they will bring in another RB that is much more than a 180-200 pound scat back. They won’t go into next season with Blount as their only big back. It won’t be Richardson unless he runs a really low 4.4, and even then I just don’t think the position has enough value for that pick.
    I really like the idea of pairing Blount with Tolbert, but like somebody said, he might be looking for an opportunity to be a starter and looking for the money to reflect that. I think our best bet is to put a veteran behind Blount and draft a mid-rounder to work into the rotation.

  22. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:

    The five leading rushers over the last five seasons are Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson and Michael Turner. Those five have combined for two playoff wins as starting running backs

    I will now spell out why this is the most ridiculous assessment of draft position you could every possibly make. Or maybe it’s good news — no need to have a passing game or good defense either. Maybe we should just put together a garbage team and then we’re guaranteed a SB

    The leading passers of the past 5 years:

    2011: Drew Brees – 1 playoff win
    2010: Phillip Rivers – 0 playoff wins (DNQ)
    2009: Matt Schaub – 0 playoff wins
    2008: Drew Brees – 0 playoff wins
    2007: Tom Brady – 2 playoff wins (Lost in the SB)

    3 Playoff victories
    0 Super Bowls

    The leading defenses of the past 5 years:

    2011: Pittsburgh Steelers – 0 playoff wins
    2010: San Diego Chargers – 0 playoff wins (DNQ)
    2009: New York Jets – 1 playoff win
    2008: Pittsburgh Steelers – 3 playoff wins (SB champs)
    2007: Pittsburgh Steelers – 0 playoff wins

    4 Playoff victories
    1 Super Bowl

  23. Kyle Says:

    A lot of people had Blair thomas ahead of a certain HOF rb and look how that turned out. Martin isn’t the same back as James and James is what we need and why have to reach for Martin? Take James in the third and let some other team waste a pick on the bsu donkey . I hate bsu if you can tell and I never want Tampa to draft any worthless player from that school.

  24. Brain Says:

    Great article/piece Joe. Richardson is an elite RB prospect imo but that’s still not enough for me to be any less than outraged if he gets picked by us in the top 10.

  25. GenocideD Says:

    I agree with bambam. If Claiborne’s gone and blackmon is gone then we will take Kalil(which will never happen b/c Kalil will be gone by the time we pick). I’m stoked! We’re going to land Claiborne, Blackmon, Trent Richardson or Kalil.
    I’d be excited about any of these elite talents.
    My order of preference:

  26. Chris Stewart Says:

    Being a Boise native and personally knowing Doug Martin and being a Bucs fan I am excited to hear he may land in Tampa. Class act all the way and he can throw down some shots !

  27. MOBucs Says:

    Wow! Great points Creamsicle. I tend to agree with Joe, but won’t throw a fit if Trent is the pick. The guy looks like a complete back that could instantly upgrade the offense. The same can be said about Claiborne on defense too. The latest from Twitter is that the Bucs have already met with Richardson. They are also very interested in signing Cortland Finnegan. Add that to the fact that Schiano wants Barber and Talib back, I could see any number of things happening on draft day. I think it all depends who we land in FA.

  28. SensibleBuc Says:

    @ CreamsicleBananaHammock

    Preach the good word brother!

  29. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:

    MO Bucs & Sensible

    Thanks guys- I’m not going to whine and complain if we DO end up going with Claiborne (or anyone else for that matter….when they put on the pewter & red I’m their biggest fan). But I just need a better reason to not take a RB than “they’re available late.” EVERY position is available late, and this team, in my opinion, needs playmakers desperately. A RB touches the ball 300+ times a year, a CB (if he’s amazing) will touch the ball 10 times in a yr

    Really, the only reason I can think of to not take a RB EVAH in the first round would be shelf life, but one thing I’ve been trying to harp on is the new rookie wage scale. It changes everything.

    My humble opinion is, if there’s a guy available that you really want when you’re drafting and you know for a fact he won’t be there when it comes back to you in round 2, and you can’t trade back, then go ahead and take him 20 spots “too” early. Rookie wage scale changes the draft completely, but nobody seems to realize it yet

  30. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:

    Oh, and MO Buc great point about FA.

    If this team goes out and signs Finnegan, Talib and Barber come back, then I will be marching to One Buc with a torch and pitchfork if they go DB with the #5 pick. Likewise if the sign Michael Bush. It’s too early to say what this team “should” do, and it’s patently absurd to rule anyone out based on any of the criteria I’ve seen posted on this site the past two days.

  31. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:

    And one last point here-

    This team has spent 4 of their last 5 first and second round picks on the defensive side of the ball. It’s time to add a few young playmakers to this offense

  32. Brandon Says:

    Wow, one day after posting pretty much the same thing on one of the local papers ESPN posts that… which I agree with totally

    This is what I said yesterday:

    We don’t need to draft an RB high… are you kidding me? The Giants just won the Super Bowl with a 7th rounder (Bradshaw) and 6th rounder (Jacobs) as starters. The Packers were the best team in football during the regular season with a 7th rounder (Starks) and an undrafted free agent (Grant). The team that was 2:00 away from winning the Super Bowl, the Pats, had two undrafted free agents as their top RBs (Green-Ellis, Woodhead).

    Anybody that believes we NEED to draft an RB high needs to shut their mouths. Good RBs can be had late in the draft, and even after the draft. There are too many good RBs this year to waste a high draft pick on one.

  33. BamBamBuc Says:

    Ok, so forget playoff wins by 1st round draft choice RBs. Let’s just look at rushing leaders (total yards rushing) the last 5 years. The top ten each year is mostly littered with 2nd round picks through undrafted free agents, but there are a few first rounders each year as well. Problem is, most of those first rounders aren’t even with the team that drafted them when they’re top ten players. Players like Thomas Jones, Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, etc. all were top ten players in the past 5 years with different teams than the one that drafted them. Of the first round picks that were with the team that drafted them, most were not top 10 picks in the draft, most drafted in the 20s. Only 3 players (Adrian Peterson, Ladanian Tomlinson, and Fred Taylor) were drafted in the top 10 picks of the draft AND playing for the same team that drafted them AND were in the top 10 rushing leaders in the past 5 years. 5 years is a long time in the life of an NFL running back. If there were only 3 in that whole time then it just shows that it’s either better to get the RB someone else took in the 1st round as a FA, or get a guy in the later rounds. There were many more of those in the top 10 each year than the number of times AP, LT, and Taylor were there combined.

  34. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:


    That’s simply because there are more to pick from… of averages

    Through sheer percentages there are going to be more RB’s (more of EVERY position) taken in rounds after the first than in the first.

    Again, take a look at the all time rushing list. All of the top 12 all time rushers were taken in the first round except for 1 (Curtis Martin)

  35. bucfanjeff Says:

    With the new CBA, there is a lot more value than in years past for top picks. Cam Newton, a 1st overall pick and QB, got 20 mil guaranteed. A #5 RB pick won’t sniff that. I don’t buy the $ argument anymore. If Claiborne isn’t there, how can you not?

  36. Big Picture Guy Says:

    2011: 28 Mark Ingram
    2010: 9 CJ Spiller
    12 Ryan Mathews
    30 Jahvid Best
    2009: 12 Knowshon Moreno
    27 Donald Brown
    31 Beanie Wells

    Who on this list has produced like a player worthy of a 1st round pick?

    I would rather take the second OT on the board than take Richardson if Claiborne, Kalil and Blackmon are somehow all off the board, which is down right impossible.

  37. BamBamBuc Says:

    Creamsicle, maybe so, but top 5 overall?

    Emmitt Smith – 17th
    Walter Payton – 4th
    Barry Sanders – 3rd
    Curtis Martin – 74th
    LaDanian Tomlinson – 5th
    Jerome Bettis – 10th
    Eric Dickerson – 2nd
    Tony Dorsett – 2nd
    Jim Brown – 6th
    Marshall Faulk – 2nd
    Edgerrin James – 4th
    Marcus Allen – 10th

    So, 5 of 12 weren’t selected top 5 overall. Also, looking at that list, players like Jim Brown, Tony Dorsett, Eric Dickerson, etc… they were all from a different age of football. In this past decade, only a few of those guys are around. Even Faulk, his last 1000 yard season was 2001. Same with Bettis. Different era. Edge and LT fit the bill for this past decade and they were top 5 picks.

    Like I’ve posted elsewhere before, from 2000 back most of your top rushers each year were top draft choices. Sanders, Smith, Earl Campbell, Payton, Dickerson, etc. Over the past decade, things changed. The percentages were even higher back then, they had more rounds of the draft back then. Yet back then the top guys were the best. Now, it’s more muddled. The 4th round picks outshine the 1st round picks more frequently. Maybe it’s just the talent level of ALL players, all positions, is closer now than it was back then. If that’s the case, then I say draft for need and know that the 3rd round pick isn’t that much less talented and may do just as well or better. Unless there’s a huge drop-off, of course. But both Claiborne and Richardson are head and shoulders (supposedly) above the rest at their respective position.

  38. MOBucs Says:

    I’m with you Creamsicle. If Dom gets the secondary squared away through FA, I think Richardson would be hard to pass up. Mike Mayock believes that Richardson is the best prospect to come around since AP! Totally sucks he isn’t participating in the combine. Bad timing on the knee scope.

  39. King Lewis Says:

    We drafted Gaines Adams and left Adrian Peterson on the board…. nuff said

  40. Joe Says:


    We drafted Gaines Adams and left Adrian Peterson on the board…. nuff said

    Revisionist history. The Bucs already had Caddy and his monster salary. No way the Bucs were going to draft Peterssn.

    That’s like saying the Bucs should have drafted Andy Dalton last year.

  41. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Well I always say, “If Football Outsiders say it’s true, it must be” (that statement should be read with as much sarcasm as humanly possible). Conventional wisdom says you don’t take a running back that high. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. Should we take a player of AP’s talent at #5 – absolutely. I’m not sure Richardson is that kind of talent, but if he is, you take him and never look back. Anyone who disagrees is just plain stupid. Go ahead and make the argument that he doesn’t have a SB ring, and I’ll point out that Nnamdi, Revis, Ed Reed, and a bunch of other great secondary players don’t have one either. One player does not make a team (with the exception of a couple QB’s maybe). I don’t care if AP’s career is over now, he would have been a great pick for us, and our franchise’s recent history would probably be a whole lot different from what it is.

    A Cb’s does not typically impact the game like a great RB. Shut down one WR, there are 3 others and 2 TE’s that will still kill you. That’s a fact, and it is becoming more and more true with each year. A great RB can completely carry a team, almost from day one. The learning curve is typically a lot shorter, which means they can become great immediately. Yes, his career may be shorter, but the way things work now, it’s next to impossible to keep players in the same place throughout their career. You are lucky to get 2 contracts out of them. So who the hell cares what they are doing in 8 years?

    I’m not saying we should draft Richardson, but this BS that RB’s should never be drafted early is stupid, and incorrect. Maybe Blount is the man and we don’t need him, but what if he gets hurt in the first game? What if he doesn’t improve his blocking and pass catching? If we draft Claiborne, I’ll be the first to get his jersey. But if you are going to b!tch and moan if we do draft Richardson, then you better be prepared to eat your crow if and when he leads us to the playoffs that next year. Cadillac did it for us, and Richardson is widely considered to be twice the player Caddy was. But then again, we should probably just all listen to football outsiders, because they are always spot on.

  42. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    “Revisionist history. The Bucs already had Caddy and his monster salary. No way the Bucs were going to draft Peterssn.

    That’s like saying the Bucs should have drafted Andy Dalton last year.”


    That’s not entirely true, Joe. It didn’t stop us from drafting 2 DE’s and 2 DT’s in consecutive years did it? 2 QB’s don’t play, but 2 RB’s can (and will). You really can’t compare QB to any other position. I get what you are saying, but that’s just not a good analogy. And yes, we should have drafted AP. I said it then, I say it now. I GUARANTEE you that everyone that passed him up in the Bucs organization would agree in hindsight. You always make an exception for special talent, period. If Richardson is special (which I think he may be, but I’m no scout), then I have no problem with us taking him.

  43. Joe Says:


    Bucs were in salary cap hell then. There was just no way Bruce Almighty (or any GM this side of Matt Millen) was going to tie up two massive salaries for the same position (tailback).

    Defensive ends are two positions (hence the plural).

  44. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Again, I get what you are saying, but the analogy was bad. Running backs is plural too, and it is entirely possible to put two tailbacks in the game at once, especially when one is built like a truck. It is virtually impossible to play an entire season with only one legit running back (see 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

    Although Matt Millen was a terrible GM, the best pick (by far) he ever made was to pick Calvin Johnson. They already had 1st round WR’s picked in years prior, but he made the pick anyway. Johnson has been worth every penny, and then some. Detroit doesn’t win 6 games without him last year. Matt Millen wasn’t fired for drafting consecutive WR’s, he was fired for drafting like crap period.

    I just don’t follow the logic: If Trent Richardson is a perennial pro-bowl player and a 1500 yard rusher, you wouldn’t want us to draft him? You are the same one who has (correctly) stated that our offense revolves around Blount. Why not add someone like Richardson, which could (and better) give us the best rushing game in the NFL? We are certainly not in salary cap hell anymore.

  45. FlBoy84 Says:

    Much like NO’s RB depth last year (Thomas, Ingram, Ivory & Sproles), you can never have enough quality RB’s. Adding Tolbert (whose IS the short-yardage back Blount SHOULD be), along with James/Martin/Pead to Blount and Madu would be good start to rebuilding QUALITY depth in the backfield.

  46. SensibleBuc Says:

  47. Piratic Says:

    CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:
    “All of the top 12 all time rushers were taken in the first round except for 1 (Curtis Martin).”

    As an aside, I can attest that Curtis Martin is one of the classiest people that I’ve ever met. A true gentleman.

  48. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Great video link SensibleBuc. If I have to choose between the opinions of those guys or the experts at Football Outsiders, I’m going to go ahead and lean towards NFL Network – but then again, that’s just me. I think they hit it on the head when they said that he makes us better. I don’t give a damn about what position we need, we should draft the player that makes us better. I’m sorry, but no matter what, a great RB (great, not good) has a far greater impact than ANY great cornerback.

  49. Deminion Says:

    preferred at 5 1Claiborne 2 Kalil 3 Richardson 4 Blackmon

  50. Mattthew Says:

    You pick BPA over NEED every time. If you pick NEED you’ll take busts, pick BPA and get pro bowlers.

  51. David Says:

    YES JOE, YES!!! Just say no to ANY RB with the #5 overall pick in any draft!
    LaMichael James or a Chris Rainey can be had in the 3rd or later. A complement to Blount and better coaching is all that is needed. Use pick 1 & 2 on DBs, LBs, and/or WR.
    Add DT and O-Line depth through free agency along with more DBs, LBs, and maybe a nother WR or TE

  52. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    NO THANKS! I would much rather have LaMichael James or Ronnie Hillman. James ran in the 4.3s at the combine and you can watch his tape at Oregon. He runs inbetween the tackles and can bounce it outside and take it to the house!! We could get Mo or OT/DE with our 1st pick. And James in the 2nd maybe 3rd.