Heading into his second season in the league following a strong finish to his rookie year, running back J.K. Dobbins is poised to break out as the lead running back in the Baltimore Ravens offense.
He led the team in rushing yards and touchdowns last season with 805 yards and 9 scores on the ground. Dobbins also finished first among all running backs in the league in yards per carry with an impressive six per tote.
The 2020 second-round pick out of Ohio State will be featured more heavily in both the running and passing game. He showed flashes but was inconsistent as a pass-catcher as a rookie with 18 receptions and 120 receiving yards on 24 targets. Dobbins wants to enter the upper echelon of players at his position by becoming more of a complete back like some of the best in the game.
“I want to be one of the greatest,” Dobbins said Thursday. “I want to be considered one of those top running backs in the league, so [improving as a receiver] one of the things I’ve got to do to be like an Alvin Kamara or a Christian McCaffrey. That’s what I’ve been working on.”
Karma and McCaffrey are two of the most dynamic offensive weapons in the league regardless of position with the ways they contribute as pass catchers. They are the best runners and arguably the first or second-best receivers on their respective teams as well.
Kamara led the league in scrimmage touchdowns last season with 21 [16 rushing and 5 receiving]. McCaffrey was banged up for most of 2020 but recorded over 1,800 yards and 10 touchdowns from scrimmage in each of the two previous seasons. In 2019, the Carolina Panthers star eclipsed 1,000 yards both as a rusher and receiver.
Dobbins doesn’t want to be categorized as a one-trick pony kind of back who dominates in one facet of the game but falls shorts in others that are just as vital. He wants to be the kind of three-down back that never has to come off the field outside of the occasional breather so he can stay fresh or allow one of his teammates to shine.
“I’ve always prided myself on being an offensive weapon – not one-dimensional,” Dobbins said. “Shoot, if you want to ask me to go out there and be Lamar for a little bit, I could maybe do that.”
While Dobbins was good for ripping off chunks of yardage on a consistent basis last year, he only had one play of over 50 yards. It came in the regular-season finale on a 72-yard touchdown run where he turned on the afterburners down the sideline to get to the end zone. With the increased workload this year, he plans to have more plays where he can display his underrated long speed.
“I want to be that home run hitter for the team – that sparkplug,” Dobbins said. “Whenever you have a long touchdown run like that, it gets the team going. This year, I’ve been honing in on ways to make that home run more than just one time. I want to do it like four or five times this year. If you do that, that breaks the will of a defense.”
Dobbins has the opportunity to establish himself as one of the best in the game this year. If he can become more of a factor as a pass-catcher out of the backfield or occasionally lined up on the line of scrimmage, his goal of becoming one of the greatest will be absolutely obtainable.