Buck Allen produced a promising rookie campaign last season, which had many believing he was a lock to make the Baltimore Ravens regular season roster. But that was before Terrance West broke out to become one of the most exciting players in training camp and rookie Kenneth Dixon has begun showcasing his elusiveness.
Ordinarily, a second-year running back drafted in the fourth round who posted more than 850 all-purpose yards along with three touchdowns would be assured of a roster spot. However, the 2016 Ravens roster crunch is way too tight for projects.
Allen has a nose for the end zone, as evidenced by his 19-yard catch and run touchdown in the preseason opener against Carolina. On the other hand, Allen also has issues with ball security after putting the ball on the ground twice last season. At times he has problems with pad level, running upright instead of behind his pads. In last Thursday’s preseason contest, Allen produced six yards on six carries, following his 3.8 average yards per carry last season. Running between the tackles is clearly not his strong suit.
Vision after the catch is Buck’s best attribute. The problem for Allen is that Justin Forsett and Dixon are also very good receiving running backs. West appears to be the primary power and short yardage back on the depth chart, he has been extremely impressive this summer. Forsett is the most experienced and best pass blocker of the bunch, while Dixon has showed better burst and speed than Buck. The question becomes where Buck fits into the running back committee rotation, he could be fourth in the pecking order.
Verdict: The Ravens have not carried more than three running backs on their regular season roster since 2009 when kick return specialist Jalen Parmalee joined Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and fullback hybrid Le’Ron McClain. With fullback/h-back Kyle Juszczyk, the wealth of talent at wide receiver and four quality tight ends, and the skill position roster spots for the upcoming season could become scarce quickly.
The prediction is that Allen makes the final roster at the expense of a backup offensive lineman. But don’t be shocked if the Ravens move on from Buck. He truly is on the bubble.