The Baltimore Ravens don’t need a running back. Yet experts seem to think they do:
The idea that the Baltimore Ravens need a running back is wrong. Could they use another difference maker at any position? Sure. Yet, running back isn’t even close to the first thing the Ravens need to address this offseason. They have Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Where did this idea come from? Why is this idea still going around?
It kind of started a stir when NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah picked D’Andre Swift to the Ravens in one of his mock drafts. I wrote an article about it; my reaction was basically that it’s not what I would do but I get the logic. If the Ravens add a superstar it doesn’t really matter what position he plays, he’s going to make a difference.
It’s not a pick that would be very popular in Baltimore. On the list of needs for the Ravens running back can’t even be found. They need an inside linebacker, an edge rusher and a couple of receivers. They could use some more help on the inside of the offensive line. All of these things have to be priorities for a team that just broke the single season rushing record.
Chris Trapasso did a mock draft for CBS Sports where he took Jonathan Taylor for the Ravens. Running backs to the Ravens has become a mock draft thing that seems unavoidable. Patrick Queen was on the board and he had the Ravens ignore a top need for a running back. This is what Trapasso wrote in his Mock Draft for CBS Sports:
"“Hello! Taylor with Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson would be downright unfair to opposing run defenses.”"
Yes, it would be unfair. It would be unfair to number 35 on the Ravens. Taylor and Ingram would be a potent combination. The problem is that Taylor isn’t much different than Gus Edwards. He may just be a better version of Edwards. Swift or J.K. Dobbins would at least give Baltimore it didn’t already have.
Press Box’s Glenn Clark recently brought up Sal Paolantonio’s thoughts on the Ravens need at the running back position via Twitter. This is the tweet:
Sal Paolantonio is one of the coolest people in sports media, so his opinion is a big deal. It is something that should be brought up before I disagree with his assertion that it would be shocking for the Ravens not to take a running back early in the draft.
The argument can’t be made that the Ravens are a running back away from a Super Bowl. They have a Pro Bowl running back. It leaves you to wonder where the idea came from. Here’s my hypothesis.
The Ravens are a run first team. When most people think of the Ravens they don’t think about the team who had the touchdown passes leader last season. When most people think the Ravens they think about Lamar Jackson being just one of the Ravens’ 1,000 yard rushers.
When Mark Ingram was hurt going into the playoffs it didn’t seem to matter. Then the Ravens somehow forgot they had Gus Edwards. The last time we saw the purple and black they needed to run the ball and instead they got pass happy. They didn’t have Ingram at full strength and Jackson dropped back to pass an inexplicable 70 plus times.
When you look at things from the macro perspective it’s an understandable thought. No team runs it more than the Ravens. If the Ravens take a running back it’s some easy pickings commentary. It would be as Paolantonio suggested leaning on their strength. The Ravens can probably do more with a good running back than any team in the NFL. That’s the root of it. That’s where this is coming from.
The idea of adding a running back in the first round is something that we’ve played around with. Our Michael Natelli wrote an article making his case for Swift to the Ravens. I’m on record of saying I could live with it in the right situation. I’ve even written about possibly taking J.K. Dobbins in the second round.
Here’s the thing though, we know it’s not a need. I would absolutely prefer to go after a linebacker, a pass rusher or a wide receiver before a running back. The Ravens can overload at running back. Acknowledging that doesn’t mean we think the Ravens have to. Baltimore is objectively doing just fine at the running back spot.
The die hard fan that lives and breathes on every snap of Ravens football understands how good Gus Edwards is. He could be a number one running back on another team. The general NFL audience, that follows the whole league rather than just the Ravens, may not realize how set the Ravens are.
We’re not going to stop talking about running backs heading up to the NFL Draft. It shouldn’t be the focus of the Ravens yet it’s an idea that the sports media is going to continue to toy around with. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Ravens didn’t add a running back. They could take one in the mid to late rounds yet it doesn’t seem like an urgent need. It doesn’t even feel like a need.