Former Ohio State All-American and Big Ten Running Back of the Year J.K. Dobbins will certainly have his work cut out if he would like to tote the ball on a regular basis at his new home in Maryland. The nation's third-leading rusher last year, Dobbins was drafted late in the second round (55th overall) by Baltimore and will now add depth to a star-studded backfield that put up historic rushing numbers in 2019.
The Ravens rushed for an astonishing 3,296 yards last season, good enough for a new NFL single season team record. The previous mark, set by the New England Patriots in 1978, stood for over 40 years...
In addition to All-Pro Mark Ingram II rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2019, the Ravens supplemented their ground attack with quality backups Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Of course, having dual-threat quarterback and league MVP Lamar Jackson capable of carrying the ball 176 times over the course of the season adds another dimension to Baltimore's heralded rushing game.
Due to the Ravens remarkable rushing success last season, Dobbins was as surprised as any to get the call from General Manager Eric Decosta back in April on draft night.
“I was definitely surprised when I got the call,” Dobbins told BaltimoreRavens.com. “I was waiting for a while; it was a longer wait than I expected. But I’m glad the Ravens are giving me a chance.”
Not only have the Ravens given Dobbins a chance, multiple reports indicate that he's been impressive in the early stages of training camp. Baltimore running backs coach Matt Weiss commented on his performance last week.
"I think every day, his athleticism, his physicality, his vision - all the things that make a great running back - show up on the field."
We all know Dobbins is a promising NFL back but, the question remains, how much can/will he contribute this year given the loaded backfield? ESPN NFL Fantasy rankings suggest a somewhat-even split between he and Ingram, as the duo is situated 25th and 32nd, respectively at the position.
Ingram is now 30 years old and, regardless of age, running backs take enough hits that depth becomes very critical. A committee approach seems likely for a Baltimore team that rushed a league-high (by a wide margin) 57 percent of the time last year, but also don't be surprised if the youthful rookie steals the show at some point...
Dobbins finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season and was the first Buckeye in history to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons. He culminated with staggering numbers of 301 carries for 2,003 yards and 21 touchdowns last fall on the ground, while also supplementing the passing game a bit.
The Ravens will soon look to defend their AFC North crown, opening the 2020 campaign on Sept. 13 at home with a divisional game against the Cleveland Browns.