Baltimore Ravens: The search for a great running back
Can the Baltimore Ravens find the next great running back?
Just as they have struggled finding and developing receivers, the Baltimore Ravens have had the same issue at the running back position in recent years. Baltimore has been unable to find a long-term answer at the position since the days of Ray Rice. The team lacks the ability to develop and maintain skilled position players on the offensive side of the ball.
Justin Forsett looked to be the answer after a great year and a half, but after suffering a broken arm in week eleven of the 2015 season he never returned to the same level of play and was released by the Ravens for good in October of 2016. In that same season the Ravens promoted Towson alum, Terrance West to the active roster.
He appeared in all sixteen games, starting thirteen of them. West produced enough to have his tender signed and be kept under contract for the 2017 season. His 2017 season was sub-par and he was also struck by an injury, his calf, and only appeared in five games. Another factor that played into West’s end was Alex Collins.
Collins, drafted by the Seahawks in 2016 struggled to find much playing time with a crowded backfield in Seattle, was signed to Baltimore’s practice squad in September 2017. Thanks to his stellar play in limited opportunities, Collins ultimately won the starting position and sparked the Ravens offense. Maybe the Ravens had finally found the answer to their backfield issues.
However, heading into the 2018 season as the starter, Collins wasn’t the same burst of speed, elusive back that won the position. For the third straight season the Ravens lost their starting running back to an injury and ultimately lost the player all together as Collins was cut today after an incident this morning in an automobile accident.
As of today the Ravens have Gus Edwards as their number one back. Debuting in his rookie season he played in eleven games, tallying 718 yards and two touchdowns. He and Lamar Jackson were a formidable one, two punch when on the field together. Is Gus Edwards the answer? That remains to be seen.
Baltimore has an opportunity to add to or improve their running back situation with a top-notch talent. Recently, drafting running backs has not garnered much success with the likes of Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen, and Kenneth Dixon. All three have made minimal impacts on the run game and none have the ability to produce starter caliber numbers.
Baltimore does have the opportunity, however to sure up the position in one of two ways. First, the most asked question of the off-season, should the Ravens make a run for Le’Veon Bell? I’m not here to answer that question (I believe they should, but I digress), but I do think that he would create one heck of a dynamic duo with number eight.
A big splash like this would excite not only the fans, but the players, many of whom have already began their recruitment process for Bell. The second option is to select Josh Jacobs out of Alabama with the 22nd pick in April’s draft. Jacobs is the highest ranked back in many analysts rankings and he has already been linked to the Ravens as a potential possibility.
Eric DeCosta made it clear he wants to surround Lamar Jackson with playmakers. This off-season. Making one the moves mentioned above would mark a perfect beginning to that plan. Of course, they are many other options available, but Jacobs and Bell seem to be the two biggest names and two players who would begin to take the Ravens’ offense to the next level.
This off-season is crucial for the Ravens to find a star running back. With Lamar Jackson being the guy behind center, Baltimore needs to find someone who can match and build of off his athletic abilities. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman and co are rebuilding the offense from the ground up and having a star running back will be one of many deciding factors of its success.