Alex Collins is without a doubt the top guy on the Ravens running back depth chart, but Javorius Allen is probably the team’s top receiver in the backfield.
Since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Javorius “Buck” Allen has been underwhelming as a pure runner, as evident by his career rushing stats. This is why Alex Collins headlines the running back group in 2018, as the third-year pro showed off excellent running ability compared to Allen.
However, where Javorius Allen is lacking in rushing ability he makes up for as a receiver. In the two (out of three) seasons that Allen has played 16 games, he has a combined 91 receptions. That’s no accident. You don’t just stumble your way into 91 receptions in 32 healthy games (94 career receptions).
With Javorius Allen’s prowess as a receiver, wondering how many receptions he can nab this season is a fair question. Let’s even take it one-step further: Can Javorius Allen lead the Ravens offense in receptions in 2018?
This may seem crazy to think that a running back would lead their team in receptions, but it isn’t completely unheard of. In an offense that loves its dink-and-dunk passing attack, imagining that Buck Allen could find a way to lead the team in receptions truly isn’t that far out in left field.
Breaking it down:
Last season, the Ravens running backs (Allen, Collins, Danny Woodhead, and Terrance West) combined for 104 of the team’s 363 pass completions. Additionally, two of the team’s running backs (Allen and Woodhead) were inside the team’s top five for receptions, sitting at third and fifth respectively. The other three that made up the top five were Benjamin Watson, Mike Wallace, and Jeremy Maclin. Of those five, only Allen remains.
We can safely assume that Alex Collins will receive (no pun intended) more opportunities in the passing game as a 16 game starter, but replacing Danny Woodhead’s 33 receptions in eight games is no small task.
Even if the Ravens are committed to reviving the deep ball, we shouldn’t just assume it will be clicking from day one of the regular season. These things take time to adjust to. The Ravens have been an underneath passing team since 2015, and their running backs have been a big part of that. It only makes sense that Allen continues to be a large part of the passing game.
The Ravens have added red-zone threats in guys like Michael Crabtree and Hayden Hurst, but who’s catching those check-down throws when Joe Flacco is under duress? No one said anything about Allen leading the team in receiving yards, but leading the team in catches isn’t as far-fetched as you’d imagine.
At the end of the day, Javorius Allen has just 6.6 YPR for his career, including a poultry 5.4 YPR in 2017. This doesn’t mean Allen still can’t be a successful and important piece of this offense. 2018 is a contract year for Allen and leading the team in receptions could mean a big payday for him. Don’t be too surprised if Mr. Buck Allen earns a career high in receptions and finds a way to lead the team in 2018.