Position Outlook: RB


After a banner sophomore season for starter Ray Rice, where he was a Pro Bowler and was 2nd in the NFL in total yards, the running back corps is looking to build on a great 2009.

With Willis McGahee hopefully being healthy and in shape to start the season, the Ravens will try to use that 1-2 punch as successfully as they did in the ’09 campaign. Also looking for playing time and a spot on the team at the position are returnees Jalen Parmele and Matt Lawrence, and undrafted free agent Curtis Steele (Memphis).

Click “Continue Reading” to see the full breakdown of the Ravens’ running backs for the 2010 season.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

Player Height Weight Age 2009 Stats
Ray Rice 5’8” 205 lbs. 23 2,043 total yds, 78 recs, 5.3 YPC, 8 TD
Willis McGahee 6’0” 232 lbs. 28 544 rush yds, 5.0 YPC, 12 TD
Jalen Parmele 5’11” 220 lbs. 24 283 return yards, 31.4 KR avg, 6 tckls
Matt Lawrence 6’1” 204 lbs. 25 4 receiving yards, 8 tckls
Curtis Steele 6’0” 190 lbs. 23 1,362 total yds, 6.3 YPC, 15 TD***

***: Steele’s stats with Memphis last season.

As you can see, there is a huge gap in production between McGahee at #2 and Parmele/Lawrence/Steele below him. Both Rice and McGahee are very good backs, and I believe that Parmele is talented enough to deserve some carries and some other looks out of the backfield this season. If it weren’t for Le’Ron McClain creating a logjam in the backfield, he might get a better look.

Ray Rice: Rice is the superstar of this group. He was a superstar at Rutgers being one of, if not the best running back in the NCAA throughout his career.  His explosive running style is surprising for a guy with such a small frame, but he can hold his own with any big linebacker in the NFL.  He can run North-South, but is mainly a threat when he turns the corner and can show the defense some of his top-class quickness, complete with every juke move you can think of.

Willis McGahee: McGahee should be hungry to blow up this season.  He had a ton of touchdowns, and some major runs last season, highlighted by his unforgettable stiff arm against Oakland defender Hiram Eugene (see video below).  He took care of business when the team needed him to, and averaged 5 yards per carry last season. With that said, his lack of significant carries was a combination of both Ray Rice’s success and his own laziness. Synonomous for showing up out of shape, McGahee seemed to get in post-training camp shape in around…Week 4.  Hopefully he can step up his game and give the Ravens the league’s best two-headed monster next season.

Jalen Parmele: With Lardarius Webb expected to miss some time during the season, and pretty much all of the summer, Parmele will be handling kick returning duties to start the season.  A guy who had some very explosive returns and will be a threat to run a kick back every time he catches it, he’s a good weapon to have. A promising talent, I have a feeling that Parmele may get his best chance away from Baltimore and reach his full potential wherever he eventually goes. But for now, let’s be happy to have a versatile guy like him on the roster.

Matt Lawrence: Lawrence had a great preseason last year which helped him make the roster, and other than that, little is known about his spot on the team this season.  With Curtis Steele in the mix, he’ll probably have to work even harder for a roster spot, and may even work that hard and end up on the practice squad. His best asset is his physicality, which was seen often last summer.

Curtis Steele: Steele had a very nice career at Memphis, but was undrafted after not attending the Combine and not impressing too much in other workouts. The Ravens liked what they saw and decided to pick him up after the draft and give him a chance to make the roster.  Playing two years at a JuCo, there will probably be a big learning curve for Steele, whose talent is still very raw.  With proper coaching, he could probably turn into a solid piece for the team to have in its pocket as he develops into an NFL running back.

The next edition of our position outlooks will be at the wide receiver position.

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Tags: Curtis Steele Jalen Parmele Matt Lawrence McGahee Stiff Arm McGahee Stiff Arm Video Ravens Depth Chart Ravens Preview Ravens Running Backs Ravens Stats Ray Rice Willis McGahee

  • Benji5023

    I can’t wait to see ray and willis run this season. Last years one two punch was great, and I feel its only gonna get better. But, there is one guy you didn’t metion, and that the McClain the Train! I feel as if he is going to recieve a few more touchs this season. Expect the three headed monster to be in full effect baby!

  • http://ebonybird.com Joe Barnes

    Benji,
    Thanks for the comment, I just was thinking I hadn’t heard from you in a while. I thought about McClain when I was doing this, but I decided to leave him out until I did the fullback position. I think when you have a guy like him who blocks and such, he’s less of a running back than these guys.

    On your point about him getting more touches, I agree that he deserves more opportunities, and hopefully that will make the offense more dangerous. But here’s the downside: The reason he didn’t get the same amount of looks last year is because Rice was so good and Willis scored the TDs so he got lost in the shuffle. With even more offensive weapons this season, he might get lost in the shuffle even more. I’m not saying he can’t get more carries, but that would mean taking them away from Rice, who we’ll hopefully see turn into a star, or from Willis, who needs some carries with Rice hogging the spotlight.

    It’s a tricky issue, and I’ll have a post on it soon.