31 NFL teams likely let out a collective groan after Roger Goodell announced — from his basement — the No. 55 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft on Friday night.
That’s where the Baltimore Ravens selected J.K. Dobbins, who was a first-team All-American running back for Ohio State in 2019 after running for 2,003 yards on 301 carries (6.7 avg), with 21 touchdowns.
— ESPN (@espn) April 25, 2020
The rankings of the draft’s top running backs vary, but Dobbins is viewed as a consensus top-five prospect at the position, and it wouldn’t have surprised anybody if he had been drafted in the top-25 picks.
Getting Dobbins at the 55th pick is a steal for the Ravens, and improves a rushing attack that was far and away the top statistical unit in 2019. The Ravens averaged 206.0 rushing yards per game, 62 yards more than any NFL team (the 49ers were second at 144.1 yards). They averaged 5.5 yards per carry, 0.5 yards more than any other team (the Cardinals and Titans each averaged 5.0).
And now they’re adding a starting-caliber running back in Dobbins, to form a terrific duo with veteran Mark Ingram (1,018 yards, 5.0 AVG, 10 TD in 2019).
Oh, and it’s really a terrific *trio* out of the backfield.
That’s because quarterback Lamar Jackson is a terror in the rushing attack as well. Jackson ran for 1,201 yards with a ridiculous 7.8 average, and found the end zone seven times. However, Jackson said earlier in the week that he’s looking to run less going forward. There’s of course increased injury risk by as a ball-carrier with all of the hits taken (and even non-contact leg injuries will happen from time to time as a ball-carrier).
“I doubt if I’m going to be carrying the ball a lot going on in the future,” Jackson said. “We’ve got dynamic running backs. We’re going to have even more receivers. We’ve got Hollywood, Mark Andrews, Nick (Boyle), Willie Snead, Miles (Boykin). We’re going to be pretty good. I don’t think I’ll be running a lot.”
Those comments drew mixed reactions, due to Jackson’s running game and threat being such a big part of his success. But adding Dobbins does put less pressure on Jackson to be such a big factor out of the running game, and the Ravens obviously want to keep their franchise quarterback healthy, thinking both 2020 and long term. It will also help keep Ingram’s 30-year-old legs fresh.
Dobbins gives the Ravens more high-quality depth and flexibiity in their rushing attack, and that’s a very scary thought for the rest of the league.