The Baltimore Ravens have had some great running backs and J.K. Dobbins has the potential to be the best running back they’ve ever had. Dobbins is a running back that literally has every tool you could hope for. Sometimes he reminds me of Jamal Lewis. Sometimes he looks like Ray Rice.
While it’s probably not fair to say that Dobbins is a more powerful runner than Lewis, he’s at least his equal. The leg churning ability of Lewis is the stuff of legend so that’s a massive compliment. Dobbins has the most impressive leg strength in the NFL. There are a lot of tough runners in the league but none of them are quite as physically wowing as Dobbins.
Ray Rice was almost impossible to tackle because of his low center of gravity, balance, and elusiveness. Dobbins has all of those traits but he’s faster. Dobbins isn’t a sports car you drive down the highway, he’s built for the Indy 500.
When you look at the raw talent that Dobbins has, the NFL is his to conquer. He’s got some achieving to do before he gets called the best running back in football. He’s got a resume to build and it’s off to a great start after his rookie season.
Dobbins averaged six yards per attempt last year. With all the complaining about the offensive line, the Ravens were still able to run the rock incredibly well. You could make a case that Dobbins was the most efficient running back in 2020.
In the 2003 season, Lewis ran for over 2,000 yards. He averaged 5.3 yards per attempt that season, a year where every time he got the ball it seemed like he was unstoppable. Coincidently, Rice averaged 5.3 yards per attempt in his best season.
Now, both Ravens legends got more rushing attempts than Dobbins. If Dobbins got 200 or more carries the average would probably drop under the six yards pet attempt marker. The point is that Dobbins’s rookie season showed that his talent was special.
Gus Edwards is a very good running back but he falls more in with the Willis McGahee‘s and Chester Taylor‘s of the football world. Dobbins is a rare find. He’s a Jamal Lewis level player. He’s a Ray Rice level player. It may not be long before he’s on a level higher than both legends of the Purple and Black.
Edwards and Dobbins together, now that’s easily the best combination of running backs the Ravens have ever had. You could make an argument for Lewis and Priest Holmes, but Holmes had his best years with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Ravens’ biggest case for being a Super Bowl contender is that they have the best running game in the NFL. They have the only quarterback ever with two 1,000 yard rushing seasons, a potential legend in the making with Dobbins and Edwards, who has three straight years with over 700 rushing yards.
If the Ravens keep Orlando Brown Jr. the Ravens are sending Dobbins behind him and Kevin Zeitler leading the way. That’s going to lead to double-digit touchdowns. Dobbins had nine touchdowns dealing with D.J. Fluker and Tyree Phillips.
We keep talking about how the Ravens may not be done at wide receiver. Are we sure they’re done with the offensive line? The Ravens have the chance to build an offensive attack that tilts the NFL on its axis and steals the crown. If they’re all in on linemen, it’s hard to blame them, especially in the draft.
The Ravens passing attack just needs to be a little better next season, especially when it’s do-or-die time. The run game is going to be special for a fourth consecutive season. If anyone can prove that you can win it all differently, it’s going to be the Ravens.
Dobbins becoming the best running back in football, with the always strong Edwards joining the effort could make the best-run game in the NFL a Super Bowl winner. Ground and pound can win if the passing game is solid. The Ravens have a former MVP at quarterback. This is possible people. Dobbins may be the most talented Raven not named Jackson.
The Bottom Line:
The fact that Dobbins doesn’t have to be a workhorse in this offense increases his value. He’ll get more touches but this is never going to be a Derrick Henry situation. The Ravens will never use and abuse Dobbins so they can keep his big-play potential always at the ready.
Dobbins will be the Ravens’ rushing leader in the 2021 season, he’ll even beat out the best running quarterback in the NFL’s history (Yes, Jackson is the best runner the quarterback position has ever seen).
He won’t win a rushing title as he is sharing snaps with Edwards but he’ll make the most impactful plays of the season. His highlight reel will be the envy of the entirety of both Pro Bowl rosters. Dobbins is going to be a superstar. If he takes the kind of step that it looks like he can take, the Ravens may win a Super Bowl because of it.