Entering the offseason, running back appears to be one of the best positions on the Baltimore Ravens roster. Alex Collins developed into a feature back in 2017, Buck Allen served well in a complementary role and Kenneth Dixon is set to return from injury in 2018. Nonetheless, a stable of dynamic backs should be the goal considering the propensity for injury at the position.
The crop of running backs available in the 2018 NFL Draft class contains both bluechip players and high quality depth. Saquon Barkley is considered a generation talent, while Derrius Guice and Sony Michel are likely to come off the board within the first 50 selections. The class is so well regarded that several promising backs, including Bryce Love, Damien Harris, Rodney Anderson, Myles Gaskin, L.J. Scott, Jacques Patrick and others, opted to return to school despite the relatively short shelf life at the position.
Ideally, the Ravens will have an opportunity to make a value pick in the middle rounds for a back that adds another dimension to their committee. Seven prospects that could fit the bill:
- Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
An All-SEC performer who excels running both between and outside the tackles. Johnson displays nice patience, vision and physicality. Over 1,500 all-purpose yards against an SEC schedule as a junior in 2017. Kerryon is a long strider who runs a bit high, but makes quick cuts and has a natural feel for the position.
- Ronald Jones, Southern California
Jones boasts legitimate breakaways speed, and scored 42 touchdowns in three years with the Trojans. A quick twitch athlete with impressive balance. Also one of the best pass catchers in the class, especially on wheel routes. Ronald will probably be selected on Day 2.
- Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Highly productive back produced nearly 2,400 scrimmage yards last season and more than 4,100 over the last three. Penny also possesses proven returner ability, with eight special teams scores on his resume. Best described as an explosive cutback runner with long speed who can change gears smoothly and is a weapon catching the ball out of the backfield.
- Royce Freeman, Oregon
Freeman set the Pac-12 record with 60 rushing touchdowns as a four-year starter. He has an excellent blend of power, speed and balance. A sturdily built big back who bounces off tackles and has a nose for the end zone. Smooth in the open field, Royce is a polished prospect.
- Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Huge 235 pound bruiser, Scarbrough is a high cut physical specimen. He runs with good pad level, allowing him to muscle through arm tackles. More fast than quick, with straight line, build up speed. Bo has proven an ability to wear down defenses in the fourth quarter, and averaged 5.7 yards per attempt for the Crimson Tide.
- Nick Chubb, Georgia
Chubb returned to the Bulldogs for his senior season after suffering a horrific knee injury as a sophomore. This team captain amassed over 5,000 yards with 48 touchdowns as a collegian. Nick is a one-cut power back who pushes the pile in short yardage. His questionable lateral quickness could limit his effectiveness at the NFL level.
- Josh Adams, Notre Dame
An early entrant who accumulated over 1,400 rushing yards at 6.9 per attempt in 2017. Tall for a running back, Adams brings homerun speed. He routinely hits the hole hard and can make defenders miss with jump cuts. Because Josh often ran untouched through gaping holes, it is fair to question his ability behind a line that is not as overpowering as the group Notre Dame fielded.