Before the 2017 season began, Kenneth Dixon was penciled in as the starting running back for the Baltimore Ravens, with Danny Woodhead and Buck Allen behind him. Dixon had previously rushed for 382 yards on 88 carries (4.3 yards per carry), scored two touchdowns and produced 30 catches for 162 yards (5.4 yards per catch) and a touchdown.
Unfortunately, Dixon injured his knee before the season began, missing the entire year. Due to the injury, the Ravens acquired Alex Collins, who shortly after became the starter. Collins and Allen combined for 365 carries, 1,564 rushing yards (4.3 yards per carry) and 10 rushing touchdowns. They also provided 69 catches for 437 receiving yards and two touchdowns, showing that they could also be dynamic pass catchers.
Now it is 2018 and Dixon has returned from his knee injury. Paired with Allen and Collins, this could be one of Baltimore’s best rushing trios. Each back has also proven that they can catch passes out of the backfield and all will be 27 or younger before the season begins.
Collins brings a workhorse mentality to Baltimore’s 11th-ranked rushing attack (1,856 rushing yards). Though he played in 15 games, he wasn’t the bell cow until Week 7’s 40-0 blowout against the Miami Dolphins, where he rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries.
Allen’s ability as a pass-catcher is his most underrated quality. Baltimore is known for passing to backs, especially after the team drafted Ray Rice in 2008. Also, Joe Flacco is known for making checkdown passes to his backs. Despite that, Allen has shown he can make catches (76.7% catch rate in 2017) and turn them into touchdowns (two receiving touchdowns).
Dixon was thought to be the next big thing for the Ravens when he was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. At Louisiana Tech in 2015, he rushed for 1,073 yards on 198 attempts (5.4 yards per carry) and 19 rushing touchdowns. Dixon also added 33 catches for 464 receiving yards (14.1 yards per reception) and seven receiving touchdowns. If Dixon can continue to grow as a runner, he provides a great one-two punch with Collins out of the backfield.
This rushing attack could potentially be one of Baltimore’s best in franchise history. One of the team’s greatest three-headed rushing attacks came from the likes of Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain and the aforementioned Rice in 2008. In that season, Baltimore rushed for 2,376 yards and 20 touchdowns, ranking as the number one rushing team in the league.
Collins (migraine headaches) and Dixon (knee) have both had their struggles with injuries in the past. If both players can stay healthy and pair with Allen, this is one of the most destructive running back groups in the NFL.