Teams across the league will be reporting for training camp very soon and the Baltimore Ravens have a handful of position groups that will feature contested battles for snaps and a spot on the final roster.
The Ravens would’ve loved to have as many quality options at the position as they do now last year after a litany of season-ending injuries ravaged their running back depth chart before the opener. They were forced to pick off the veteran free agent scrapheap and still managed to finish with the third-best rushing attack in the league with well-seasoned pros like Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray as their primary ball carriers.
With the expected return of both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to the fold and given the additional depth the team added on the offensive line and at tight end, they might only carry one more running back this year. The third and possibly final spot on the depth chart will likely be a three-horse race between Tyler Badie, Justice Hill, and Mike Davis, with Nate McCrary as a potential dark horse.
Badie was the Ravens’ last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft at No. 196 overall in the sixth round out of Missouri. He is viewed by many pundits as having the best odds to claim the third running spot after he turned heads, made plays, and consistently flashed his passing catching ability throughout the offseason program. Badie could prove to be a weapon in the screen game in particular and serve as a nice change of pace back who runs with underrated power behind his pads given his lack of size. He’ll need to prove that he can hold up in pass protection once the pads come on in order for the coaches to fully trust him to be on the field no matter the down, distance, or situation.
Hill was one of the members of the backfield that fell victim to the injury bug in 2021 with a torn Achilles. He was drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and is headed into the final year of his rookie deal. Hill flashed in limited opportunities during his first two seasons and was a core special teamer in 2020. He will enter camp firmly on the bubble, needing consistent strong showings in both practice and games to give himself his best shot of making the team.
Davis is the veteran of the bunch and was brought in to provide injury insurance and added depth at the position while Dobbins and Edwards continue to work their way back from injury after both players tore their ACLs within weeks of each other. He came into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and has been a journeyman ever since, playing on five different teams during his seven-year career prior to landing in Baltimore. Davis is accustomed to earning his way onto a roster and is a solid all-around back that doesn’t have a lot of tread on his tires. He offers a lot of upside as a pass-catcher in addition to veteran leadership. Even though he only signed for the veteran minimum, he’ll still likely need a strong preseason to leapfrog the younger and more explosive options on the depth chart.
McCrary signed with Ravens as an undrafted rookie last year before getting claimed off waivers by the Denver Broncos during the final round of cuts, only to land back in Baltimore a few months later. Even though he faces the longest odds to make the team, no one should be counted out and he’d be a prime practice squad candidate if he doesn’t make the cut.