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Gus Edwards remains underrated

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Gus Edwards has been an integral piece of the Ravens’ dynamic run-first offense. Despite being a number two running back, he was 21st in the NFL in rushing yards and has maintained an unprecedented level of efficiency. I actually wrote an article about this last year. After another strong season, Edwards still does not receive the national recognition he deserves. He is set to hit restricted free agency this offseason and re-signing him should be a big priority.

Statistically, Edwards ranks among the league’s elite in almost every metric. According to Pro Football Focus, Edwards had the highest percentage of runs for first downs or touchdowns in the entire NFL.

This is nothing new. Edwards is one of only two players in NFL history to have recorded over 700 rushing yards and averaged at least five yards per carry in each of their first three seasons. That statistic encapsulates Edwards’s performance perfectly; he is remarkably consistent and efficient.

Edwards’s physical running style is a nice to complement to the speed of Lamar Jackson. Edwards was seventh in yards after contact last season. In fact, he has averaged at least 2.6 yards after contact for three straight seasons; Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb are the only other running backs to accomplish that.

It’s easy to overlook his statistics. He is arguably the Ravens’ third rushing option. J.K. Dobbins became the lead back halfway through the regular season, and Lamar Jackson has had more carries than Edwards in each of the last three seasons.

However, his efficiency does not drop, when he is given a larger workload. He has only received 20+ carries in three games in his career and posted an average of 5.1 yards per carry across them. Let’s take a quick look at those games:

2018 Week 6 vs. Oakland: 23 carries, 118 yards

2018 Week 7 at Atlanta: 21 carries, 82 yards

2019 Week 17 vs. Pittsburgh: 21 carries, 130 yards

In addition, Edwards had that big Week 17 game against the Steelers with Robert Griffin III at quarterback.

Last season, he had 15+ carries twice, and once again, those performances were extremely efficient.

2020 Week 8 vs. Pittsburgh: 16 carries, 87 yards, one touchdown

2020 Week 16 vs. New York Giants: 15 carries, 85 yards

Look, running back is not the most valuable position in the NFL. The front office could always find a solid backup running back in the draft, but Edwards is not just a solid backup running back. He is clearly capable of being the go-to running back for many teams. The Ravens are fortunate to have him on their roster. Whenever the offense was struggling, it seemed as though Edwards could always come in and pick up yardage. Hopefully, the front office can reach a long-term deal with him.