It’s hard to believe Trent Richardson is still only 22 years old and was the third overall pick in the draft only two years ago. That’s because Richardson has already been traded out of Cleveland and has already been written off by many as a colossal bust.
But now that he’s participating in his first full offseason as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, veteran Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is trying to pump Richardson up with some optimism.
Some extreme optimism, in fact, by comparing Richardson’s slow start to the beginning of former Seattle teammate Marshawn Lynch’s career.
“Marshawn’s numbers weren’t spectacular either. Everyone in the locker room understood he was doing the best he could and was working really hard,” said Hasselbeck. “It’s very similar to Trent.
“He came in in tough circumstances. We say these OTAs matter and training camp matters and preseason matters. To put unrealistic expectations on him after he missed all that with us (was unfortunate). I would definitely expect his numbers to look better this year.”
Hasselbeck isn’t the first Colt who has attempted to inflate Richardson’s tires this offseason, and that’s admirable. There is still hope for the kid, despite the fact he was demoted late in the season after averaging only 2.9 yards per carry with the Colts. Only two of 48 qualifying rushers had a lower average for the season, and he had only three touchdowns in 16 games with Cleveland and Indy.
The comparison is by no means crazy. NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling points out that it took Lynch 19 games to clear the 100-yard rushing mark with the Seahawks, and he too was dealt away early in his career by an impatient team that had lost hope.
The comparison isn’t perfect, either, because Lynch still went over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons with the Bills, but a man who is now known as one of the league’s top five backs was once considered to be somewhat of a bust.
Four years into his career, Lynch was averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and had just 23 rushing touchdowns in 57 games. Two years into his career, Richardson is at 3.3 and has 14 touchdowns, so it’s not a stretch to envision him at or above Lynch’s level by the time we reach the 2016 offseason.
So maybe there is hope for T-Rich after all.