The Baltimore Ravens had to endure a summer-long hold-in put together by their main rusher but when the time came to name their initial 53-man roster and make the cuts the drama was over and everybody fell where they should. Or not. Ask a certain veteran who was signed late, and then relegated to the practice squad for the 2023 season...
Most of the transactions involving the main and practice squad rosters have already been completed and the Ravens ultimately decided to name four and not just three rushers into their initial 53-man active squad.
The three main starters at the position were always clear following the end of the J.K. Dobbins saga, but the fourth member of the backfield was always in doubt when it came to both his name and his actual presence in terms of Baltimore carrying him or just three players into the regular season.
With the dust now settled, here's a breakdown of the backfield and Running Backs unit of the Baltimore Ravens for the 2023 season.
Ravens RB Depth Chart
RB1: J.K. Dobbins
There was never a single doubt in our collective minds about Dobbins' 1) return to the team and 2) being the clear-cut RB1 of the Ravens for the 2023 season (and hopefully beyond).
Dobbins decided to sit out most of training camp while still attending different practices with the rest of his teammates but never actually getting any rep with them. That came to an end ahead of the final preseason game, so there has been plenty of time for Dobbins to get some reps at The Castle ahead of Week 1 already.
The main concern about Dobbins is clear and it is the same as it's always been: availability. If he is ready, available, and fully fit, Dobbins is simply unstoppable. If he is not, then the Ravens might suffer more often than not, although that might change in 2023 with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken calling the shots.
Dobbins is coming off a strong finish to the 2023 season (regular-season and postseason included) and he's got nothing else to prove at the NFL level. Add the fact that he's entering a contract year and seemingly locked into getting a new deal from Baltimore, and Dobbins should be in for his best season ever.
RB2/RB3: Gus Edwards, Justice Hill
Status quo in the backfield of the Ravens after Dobbins' return was confirmed and Gus Edwards and Justice Hill are under contract and extended respectively.
Edwards and Hill have been prime members of the Ravens backfield and the trifecta actually turned the unit into one of the greatest running back stables in years past since the three of them started to get rotational reps.
Edwards had one of the best Red Zone conversion rates last season while also racking up the 17th-most yards per opportunity last year.
Hill boasted a ridiculous juke rate ranking inside the 88th percentile among all rushers in the NFL with at least 500 snaps and he also comes as a preternatural YAC rusher with pass-catching chops (he went 12-for-12 for 58 yards, logging 7.9 YAC/rec.
Depth: Keaton Mitchell
One of the (if not the) most surprising additions to the Ravens' initial 53-man roster was UDFA Keaton Mitchell. The rookie beat veteran Melvin Gordon III to the final roster spot in the backfield.
Mitchell might have to miss time at the start of the regular season after he suffered an injury in the second preseason game of the summer. Baltimore is still debating whether or not to place him on the IR, which means he'd be forced to forfeit the first month of play.
The rookie didn't practice on Tuesday and he could land on the IR, making way for another rusher or, most probably, the addition of another player at another position of need such as quarterback or cornerback.
Mitchell's father played for the Ravens when the Flock won its first-ever Super Bowl, and Baltimore is now betting on the second-generation man and his speed, explosiveness, vision, and special-team chops entering the 2023 season.