The Ravens arent going to be in the market for RBs. plain and simple. They have a top five back in Ray Rice, They have the steal of the draft at the position from last year in Bernard Pierce who looks like he could be a future Superstar because he Runs like Jamaal Lewis or Adrian Peterson and they have the games best fullback in Vonta Leech. The only guys the Ravens might potentially be interested in are buy low type prospects they could get in the 6th or 7th rounds and even then it is pretty doubtful because the Ravens have plenty of depth thanks to Ant Allen, Damien Berry and Bobby Rainey.That said, I am going to make this quick and easy like I did with the QBs.
Class Overview- Runningback as a position has been increasingly marginalized over the past 5 years. sure Adrian Peterson just won MVP, but Ray Rice, generally considered the heart of the Ravens offense and a top 3 player at the position, was pushed aside in favor of a higher flying passing game which carried the Ravens to a Super Bowl championship. The value just isn’t there anymore. That is why players like Doug Martin, who might have been a top 15 pick in 2004, slid almost out of the first round in 2012. it is just the nature of the beast. There isnt a back in this class worth a high first rounder, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see Giovanni Bernard(the only first round talent) slide out completely and end up with no backs taken in the first round at all. It probably wont go down that way, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it did.
1. Giovanni Bernard, UNC-(update 2/18/13)Bernard is a pretty impressive back. He has a ton of power and is highly elusive. He has had a nose for the endzone and shows a constant refusal to give up on busted plays. This is a pretty exciting guy to watch. That said, he isn’t as good as Richardson, Martin or Wilson from last years class and would not have been a first round pick last year. Bernard will likely go in the first round, maybe to a team like Green Bay or Denver who have some questions at the position, but I don’t see either of those teams being willing to give up a first rounder for a RB. I could possibly see the Rams taking him, but if he ends up being a first rounder, his most likely landing spot is Cincinnati. Bernard is undersized and has some injury history, but he is an absolutely explosive playmaker and a constant scoring threat due to his speed and shiftyness. Pro Comparison: Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins.
2. Eddie Lacy, Alabama-(update 2/18/13)Lacy was Alabamas work horse on the way to their second straight Championship this season after being the complement to Trent Richardson last season. Lacy has a big time nose for the Endzone and is easily the best red-zone RB in this class. Lacy is almost the complete opposite of Bernard. He has decent speed but it isnt anything to write home about, but what Lacy has in spades is toughness and size. Lacy is a big time bruiser of a back. He stands 6’0″ 220lbs which is pretty big for a modern RB and he almost never loses yards thanks to his ability to fall forward even when trapped behind the line. That will make him highly appealing to NFL teams and depending on what the highest RB needy team is looking for in a back, he could go ahead of Bernard. Lacy is more dependable, but Bernard has a ton more playmaking ability. Pro Comparison: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks.
3. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma St.-(update 2/18/13)Randle is one of those guys that isn’t faster than everybody or bigger or a better receiver or anything like that, but he does everything well and he doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game. This guy just constantly produces. Randle is 6’1″ 200 and he has a running style reminiscent of Benjarvus Green-Ellis. He is pretty powerful but he also possesses good foot quickness and ability to evade tacklers. Randle isnt a first rounder, but he will be at worst a solid rotational back for someone. A very safe pick. Pro Comparison: Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals.
4. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford-(update 2/18/13)Stepfan Taylor is the most versatile back in this class. He is a better blocker than Randle, a better receiver than Lacy and is more powerful than Bernard. He has the all around skills of a guy like Ray Rice or Doug Martin. He isn’t as fast or shifty as Rice, but they do play a similar game. The more you watch Taylor, the more respect you will gain for his game. Pro Comparison: Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens.
5. Mark Gillislee, Florida-(update 2/18/13)To me, this is the hidden gem of this class. Gillislee is a hyper-quick back. He doesn’t have a super high top-end speed, but he does have good enough speed to pick up good yardage on many plays. When you think Gillislee, think Jamaal Charles with less injury issues. The best part though? he has only one season of wear and tear on a team that used a heavy rotation. This guy is fresh and ready to go. He is a lte second or third rounder, but he will be the steal of this class(unless Lattimore gets fully healthy and plays like he used to for whoever gets him in the 6th or 7th round). I love a bit undersized backs, I love shifty quick backs and I love versatile backs. I wanted to rank Gillislee higher than this, maybe up to third but I fought the urge. Pro Comparison: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs.
6. Le’Veon Bell, Michigan St.
7. Jawaan Jameson, Rutgers
8. Stephon Jefferson, Nevada
9. Monte Ball, Wisconsin
10. Jonathan Franklin, UCLA
11. Andre Ellington, Clemson
12. Kenjon Barner, Oregon-(update 2/18/13)I am going to make a note on Barner here, he is the only RB i could see the Ravens being into in this draft(and even then, only if he is sliding). Barner is a runningback in the same way that Aaron Hernandez is a Tight End. That is to say, he will basically play about 5 positions all over the field and is just a flat out play maker. I would love to see the Ravens on passing downs put flacco in a shotgun with Rice and Barner flanking him with Pitta in the slot and Boldin/Jones on one side and Smith on the other, that is way to much speed and playmaking ability to defend all at once. Pro Comparison: Dexter McCluster, Kansas City.
13. Micheal Dyer, Arkansas St.
14. Cierre Wood, Notre Dame
15. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
16. Theo Riddick, Notre Dame