The Ravens have made a number of moves this offseason — namely cutting running back Alex Collins, wide receiver Michael Crabtree and safety Eric Weddle. With Javorius Allen and Ty Montgomery impending free agents and Collins released, it makes sense for Baltimore to draft another back. The only question here is if the first round is too early?
ESPN’s Todd McShay doesn’t seem to think so. The NFL analyst has Baltimore selecting Alabama running back Josh Jacobs with the no. 22 overall pick.
“How do you make a dual-threat quarterback like Lamar Jackson even scarier,” McShay pondered. “Put an explosive three-down running back like Jacobs next to him in the shotgun. Jacobs was never a full-time starter at Alabama, so he has a lot of tread left on the tires -- and a whole lot of pop out of the backfield.”
Baltimore was second in the league in rushing yards (2,441) mainly due to the attack led by Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards. The team also used Montgomery and Kenneth Dixon at running back in the latter part of the season.
Questions still remain at offensive line for Baltimore. Left guard and center have been discussed as positions to upgrade either through the draft or free agency. McShay has Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor being selected seventh overall to Jacksonville, Alabama tackle Jonah Williams going to Denver with the 10th pick, Washington State tackle Andre Dillard landing in Cleveland at #17 and NC State center Garrett Bradbury coming off the board at #19 to the Titans.
Oklahoma’s Cody Ford would probably make the most sense at left guard and fills an immediate need there. He could also kick out to right tackle if Orlando Brown Jr. were to miss time, or in the future left tackle Ronnie Stanley departs in free agency. However, McShay has Ford heading to Houston with the next pick after Baltimore.
Currently, Baltimore has James Hurst and Alex Lewis scraping for time at left guard with Matt Skura as the current center. They’ll aim to upgrade those positions this offseason.
Jacobs is a talented prospect, there is no doubt about that. He’s shown off the ability to both rush for a high yards per carry in college (5.9 through three seasons) and catch out of the backfield (11.9 yards per reception). Those numbers would probably pop for Jacobs next to Jackson, but to build a less one-dimensional offense, the team must be able to pass the ball more consistently.
If Baltimore isn’t stout and physical up front, they won’t be able to run as well with men stacking the box. If Jackson is given more time to pass the ball with a proven pass-blocking guard in Ford or possibly a center in Bradbury, the Ravens offense will flourish.