With the dust having settled from a wild free agency period across the NFL and for the Ravens specifically, draft season is in full swing. Mock drafts, big boards and rumors have dominated headlines for weeks now and will continue to do so until April 23.
The Ravens possess the No. 28 overall pick in the first round and an abundance of other draft selections in the first few rounds, giving GM Eric DeCosta and company a solid amount of ammunition to play with.
There’s been quite a few prospect names linked to Baltimore in recent mock drafts and fans, analysts and spectators seem to have different ideas and opinions as to who the Ravens will select on draft night. However, there’s been a general consensus on WHAT the team needs in terms of their biggest positional needs: inside linebacker, wide receiver, edge-rusher and interior offensive lineman - in no specific order.
The possibility of the Ravens addressing a position that may not be as pressing as a need though, such as running back, has been floated around by many. Some have even gone as far as suggesting the team snag the consensus top-ranked halfback in this year’s draft, D’Andre Swift out of Georgia, at the end of the first round.
Whether Swift will be available or if the Ravens would be interested in drafting him is unknown, but it’s an interesting proposition. After Swift, Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins are seemingly the second and third-best players at the position in this class, respectively.
On the surface, the running back depth chart is one of the strongest groups on Baltimore’s roster, as they’re set to return last year’s trio of Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Does that rule out the possibility of the front office not adding to the position anyways, though? Certainly not.
With that said, being said let’s examine the case for and against this potential idea. Vote on the poll below and join the conversation!
Making the case FOR —
You can never have too much of a good thing, right?
Yes, the Ravens were the most successful team in the NFL last season in terms of running the ball AND statistically the best rushing offense in league history. However, in order to adapt to what other teams will throw at them next season, it can’t hurt to have another weapon in the backfield to diversify their attack.
Mark Ingram rushed for over 1,000 yards last season (5.0 YPC) and scored 15 combined touchdowns, earning himself a well-deserved nod in the Pro Bowl. However, Ingram will be 31 years old at the start of next season and the eventual decline in running backs around this age has been well-documented. This doesn’t mean Ingram is prime to fall off a metaphorical cliff but it’s something to keep in mind, nonetheless.
Decreasing Ingram’s usage a tick could be beneficial to keep him fresh for the postseason. He clearly was not 100% against the Titans last season after suffering a calf injury in Week 16 and the team’s rushing attack suffered as a result (along with other reasons). It would also be smart to bring the rushing attempts of Lamar Jackson down in 2020, who ran the ball 176 times last season.
Add these factors up and you have increased opportunities for other rushers on the roster, which means Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Edwards has proven to be a valuable commodity on the ground but is a non-factor as a receiver, while Hill is still a fairly raw talent after contributing little in his rookie season. Neither offers much at all in terms of pass protection, which limits their value on third downs.
Adding another running back could also help offset a decline in the play of the offensive line, which seems inevitable with longtime stalwart Marshal Yanda no longer in the mix.
Making the case AGAINST —
Baltimore set a new NFL record for most rushing yards in a single season last year and are set to return all of their leading rushers AND offensive coordinator in 2020.
Instead of adding a luxury piece to an already strong position group, the Ravens should prioritize addressing their biggest needs and their biggest needs only in the draft. Using a first round pick on a running back is bad value already and doing so at the expense of adding a much-needed offensive lineman, wide receiver or linebacker is a foolish idea.
Even in the middle rounds, there’s an abundance of solid receivers and edge-rushers, among other players, who are likely to be available. Ingram, Edwards and Hill will all be back in the fold next season and combined for nearly 2,000 yards between them on the ground in 2019.
Ingram is another year older but still has relatively little tread on his tires for a 31-year-old running back. Behind him, Edwards has proven he’s capable and even deserving of a larger role in the offense and Hill showed promise towards the end of his rookie campaign. Hill’s untapped upside and the lack of touches available in the offense eliminates the need for another running back on the roster.
Any halfback added into the mix would find himself on the outside looking in on the depth chart and his primarily role would be as a special teams contributor. Selecting a running back at any point in the draft would be a long-term move but the team’s window to compete for a championship is now, which further diminishes the need.
Should the Ravens draft a running back?
This poll is closed
Yes, in the first round
Yes, in the middle/late rounds