With training camp now in full swing and the calendar turning to August, we’re quickly approaching the start of the 2020 NFL regular season.
Amidst an offseason unlike any other, it’s easy to forget what’s at stake for the Ravens this season and where individual players stand heading into the season. As such, we’ll examine each player’s outlook for the 2020 campaign on a position-by-position basis.
Up next is running back, which is one of the deepest position groups on the roster. The Ravens are returning each of their three running backs from last season (Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill) and added a talented prospect early in the draft (J.K. Dobbins).
Mark Ingram is returning as the Ravens’ starting running back this season after a productive 2019 campaign. In his first year with Baltimore, Ingram was a key offensive catalyst, turning 202 rushing attempts into 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Ingram also found the endzone five more times as a receiver and caught 26 passes for 247 receiving yards. His ability to pass-block out of the backfield was also valuable.
Ingram’s successful year ended on a sour note, though. After suffering a calf injury against the Browns in Week 15, Ingram missed the final two games of the season. He returned in the postseason but was limited to just six carries and seven total touches against the Titans.
Heading into the 2020 season, Ingram is well-positioned for a strong follow-up showing but is likely to see a decline in overall production. Ingram won’t see as many snaps nor carries with three other running backs vying for snaps on the depth chart.
However, while his yardage and touchdown numbers may drop a decent amount, Ingram should maintain a high level of efficiency as a rusher and receiver.
Despite seeing 69 less carries than Ingram, Gus Edwards was just as efficient as a runner.
The “Gus Bus” averaged 5.2 yards per carry and rushed for 711 yards and two touchdowns, near-identical numbers to his stats from 2018. Edwards was an unsung hero on the Ravens offense last season and seemed to always deliver when his number was called.
46 of Edwards’ rushing attempts resulted in first-down conversions, as the Ravens often turned to him in third-and-short situations. Edwards’ ceiling is limited due to his lack of receiving ability and pass-blocking prowess, but his efficiency as a between-the-tackles runner is evident.
It seemed like Edwards role might expand a bit in 2020 but after the addition of J.K. Dobbins, his outlook is far murkier. Edwards will be hard-pressed to approach the 397 snaps he played last season and could fall to No. 3 on the depth chart.
Either way, though, Edwards is a proven commodity at this point in his career and will be a valuable rotational piece in the backfield.
Fighting for scraps behind Ingram and Edwards, Justice Hill never truly established himself in his rookie campaign.
Hill played a total of 197 offensive snaps and saw more than five rushing attempts in just three total games in 2019. He did, however, flash at times and had enough nice moments to elicit optimism about his upside heading into 2020.
Hill’s calling card coming out of Oklahoma State was speed and elusiveness, which showed on numerous occasions during the season. He also possesses an underrated ability to pick up yards between the tackles, too, though.
He saw an uptick in usage over the final two weeks of the regular season against the Browns and Steelers. During this two-game stint, Hill turned 13 rushing attempts into 58 yards and two scores, while also catching four passes for 42 receiving yards.
During the first eight weeks of the season, Hill was one of the team’s primary kick returners and returned 12 total kicks for an average of 18.9 YPR.
Hill has the potential to produce more moving forward but in 2020, he figures to be the victim of a crowded backfield. With three other players ahead of him on the depth chart, it would likely take an injury for Hill to see his role expand.
His primary path to playing time may once again be on special teams. The opportunity exists for him to win the kick returner battle and potentially challenge James Proche for punt returning duties, too.
The lone new face in the backfield this season is J.K. Dobbins, who the Ravens scooped up in the second round of the draft. Dobbins was uber-productive at Ohio State, racking up over 2,000 scrimmage yards and 23 touchdowns in 2019.
Running back was already a position of strength on the Ravens roster but they used a second round pick on one anyways, which speaks volumes to what they think of Dobbins. It also suggests that they plan to feature him often in the offense in 2020.
Dobbins will add explosiveness and versatility behind Ingram and alongside Edwards and Hill in the backfield. His role will likely expand as the season progresses and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him begin the year as the primary backup on the depth chart.
Regardless of where you want to place him the pecking order right now, Dobbins is well-positioned to produce at a high and efficient level in his rookie campaign.