The Ravens have depth at the running back position, but still could use another back for the offense
The Ravens have established their franchise on the run first offense. Whether it has been through the likes Jamal Lewis, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, or Justin Forsett, the team prides themselves on pounding the rock in a physical AFC North division
With the 16th pick, the Ravens have options. They could address problems at the corner-back, defensive end, or the offensive line position. I think the Ravens should shy away from those needs in the 1st round and draft a running back. Their best option would be to take Dalvin Cook out of Florida State.
Problems running the ball
Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West both came on to the scene for the Ravens after Justin Forsett was cut. West was more of the every down back while the rookie Dixon provided a spark plug on 2nd and 3rd down.
Even with the duo of West and Dixon, the Ravens still had problems running the ball this season. This came partially because of injuries to the offensive line, but also from inconsistent play from the backs.
The Ravens only averaged 91.4 yards per game on the ground, which ranked 28th in the league. For a team that wants to contend in the playoffs and for a Super Bowl, this is a problem. The truth is, the Ravens running backs are average at best. They have potential, but they are not game changers. There has not been consistent play at the running back position since Ray Rice.
It also did not help that the Ravens were a pass happy team this season. Joe Flacco eclipsed the 4,000 yard mark for the first time in his career, but it did not make a difference for the offense. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg claims he wants to commit to the running game, but made many questionable calls during the season.
There were times the Ravens lined up with an empty backfield and threw the ball on 2nd/3rd short yardage situations. Not sure if there was not trust in the running game or Mornhinweg really wanted to throw the ball. No matter what, the Ravens need an elite running back.
Elite back potential
Many NFL draft experts have Dalvin Cook going somewhere in the mid first round. If he were to be available at pick 16, the Ravens should take a chance on him. Ozzie Newsome is not one to draft running backs in the higher rounds. In their 21 years as a franchise, the Ravens have only taken a running back twice in the first 2 rounds. But with a prospect like Cook, it’s hard to pass him up.
This season, Dalvin Cook was arguably the best back in the country other than Leonard Fournette. He finished his junior year with over 1,700 yards on the ground and found the end-zone 19 times. In his freshman and sophomore years, Cook was also able to reach the 1,000 yard mark. His consistency is one that gives him the potential to be an elite back in the NFL.
What also makes Cook special is the 5th gear that he possess. He has the ability to get into the 2nd and 3rd levels of opposing defenses by breaking tackles. Even at 213 pounds, he is a nightmare to bring down. His physical style of play is one that would fit perfectly into the Ravens offense. With an healthy and improved Raven’s offensive line next season, Cook could put up some big numbers.