What was Ozzie thinking when he moved up in the draft for a runningback when we already have one of the leagues best in Ray Rice?
There are some fans that jump to the quick conclusion and think it signals the end of Rice in a Ravens uniform with his contract currently being a hot topic.
Others say it's to replace Ricky Williams, who recently retired.
The Ozzie faithful say BPA all the way.
The steeler haters say it was so that the piss yellow team couldn't draft the standout runningback.
Maybe it's something more than that.
Rice's running style makes you worry about his knee and ankle joints with his cuts as he ages. Sure he doesn't take the beatings that are typical for the bigger and more physical backs,but there is still the wear and tear from all the cuts and changes of direction he makes. If he for some reason loses some of that ability that makes him so successful, he suddenly becomes average. Rice may keep himself in amazing shape, but it's only a matter of time before stuff like that becomes an issue. Just look at the way LaDainian Tomlinson kept himself in shape, and after so many years of ~400 touches, it caught up to him. Ozzie knows that Rice needs some help with the workload if he considers giving him a long term deal. Bernard Pierce will be what Rice needs to put up a long, great, borderline HoF career as a Raven.
I love Ray Rice and I hope he continues to put up Faulk/Tomlinson-like numbers for the rest of his career and retires a Raven. The big difference between Rice and those two guys will be the TD numbers (because of the McGahee, McClain, and hopefully Pierce touches near the goal-line). The low TD numbers may end up being the stat that would keep him out of Canton, which I would be totally fine with as a Ravens fan. However, add a few Superbowl rings, and Rice becomes a lock for the Hall of Fame.
To keep Rice going for as long as possible, the Ravens should keep him in that 2009 range: ~250 carries and ~75 receptions which is about 20 touches a game. But that might mean an end to his >2,000 yards from scrimmage tally as defenses are paying a lot more attention to him than they did in 2009. Also, if he's given a huge contract, then that would be poor use of such a large investment.
A 350-375 touch limit seems more realistic if we give him a big contract, and we should all just cross our fingers that his legs can take it for the length of the contract. Expecting 4 more years of Pro-bowl level production would be unrealistic with more than that amount of touches. So a contract of 4-5 years would be ideal.
Who really knows what we have with Bernard Pierce. Hopefully he warrants taking at least 5 carries a game from Rice. Lets see what he can do with100-150 touches a year with Rice as the starter. He could potentially serve as the stop gap once Rice either leaves in free agency or retires after his next 4-5 years of service as a Raven. If we feel Rice has anything left in the tank in the scenario that he gets a long contract and plays it out, we could milk a few more years out of Rice as a third down back at the right price. Thus giving us additional time to find the next great Ravens running-back.
Ozzie spending third rounder and some change could cement Rice as the best runningback in Raven history and as one of the best in NFL history, while also making the Ravens a stronger team for years to come. For all the fans that were confused by the pick, take a breather and understand that things aren't always what they initially seem.