The phrase “Here’s a guy” made famous by NBC sports broadcaster Chris Collinsworth inspired me to write a series of articles where I detail what every Baltimore Ravens’ player that is expected or is in the hunt to be on the roster brings to the table from a skillset standpoint and their 2021 individual outlook.
The second edition features the workhorses that make up the backfield of their bludgeoning rushing attack:
J.K. Dobbins -
Here’s a guy that is a chunk play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. He’s the total package as a runner with the way he can make defenders miss, pick up the hard yards, break tackles and take any given carry the distance.
Dobbins made the most of his sporadic and limited carries to start his rookie season and would’ve eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing had been more involved early on. His six yards per carry not only led all rookies but it led every non quarterback and was the third-highest mark in the league.
Unlike in 2020 when he only made one start despite being their best back, Dobbins is expected to be the starter in 2021. While he’ll still likely rotate heavily with the next player on the list, he’ll be the leadoff runner more often than not and is poised for a breakout year.
Two areas that he can improve on to take his game to the next level are as a pass catcher and pass protector. He had some bad drops and missed blocks as a rookie in some inopportune times during crucial moments of big games. Both are easily coachable and correctable traits that I fully expect him to have fixed by this fall.
Gus Edwards -
Here’s a guy that has evolved his game each year he’s been in the league to the point where he has become arguably the best No. 2 running back in the NFL who could fill No. 1 duties without the offense missing a beat.
He is still a bruiser who is at his best making one cut before going north and south but he has more wiggle and elusiveness in the open field and has improved immensely as a pass-catcher. Despite never being the unquestioned starter, Gus the Bus has still managed to be consistently productive and potent with an average of 700 plus yards rushing and five or more yards per carry in each of his first three seasons.
In 2021 he will still be counted on to complement Dobbins and quarterback Lamar Jackson in the running game, especially in short-yardage situations and near the goal line. Edwards could also see his role as a receiver out of the backfield expand alongside the profile of the offense as a whole according to offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
Justice Hill -
Here’s a guy who at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds doesn’t fit the same physical profile as the two guys ahead of him on the depth chart but runs behind his pads just as hard, plays bigger than his size suggests, and has great burst and acceleration to the second level. He has never been consistently featured in the offense but has played well when given extensive playing time as a result of injury, outbreak, or late in blowout victories.
In 2021 he’ll still be the third on the depth chart barring injury and if you include Jackson’s heavy involvement in the ground game, he’s fourth in the ball carrier pecking order. Hill developed into one of the Ravens’ best special teams contributors last year, particularly as a gunner on kick coverage units.
Since former special teams ace Chris Moore followed David Culley to Houston to join the Texans, the third-year pro will be counted on to be one of the core members in the often overlooked but never undervalued third phase of the game for the Ravens.