Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins is about to play the most important season of his career to date, and perhaps of his life without regard for what he's done already and what lies ahead of him.
Entering a contract year this season, the fourth of his rookie deal, Dobbins needs to do everything right in Baltimore through the regular season and, hopefully, the playoffs if he wants to secure himself a top-dollar deal after next February.
For now, he's got something already going his way, and that's being the healthy RB1 of the Ravens entering training camp.
Cody Benjamin of CBS ranked all 32 projected starters at the running back position into tiers, from the absolute best labeled "Game-Changers" to a final level labeled "Placeholders."
All in all, Benjamin came up with six total tiers (he split the fourth level into 4A and 4B), and slotted Ravens' projected starter into the second-worst tier he crafted for his article, along with four other players.
Here is what Benjamin wrote about the group, which also includes Breece Hall, D'Andre Swift, Javonte Williams, and James Cook:
"Hall was extremely efficient as a big-play cruiser before going down with an ACL tear in New York. Swift saw injuries tarnish a mercurial Lions run but has the multipurpose skills to break out in the Eagles' friendly attack. Williams was a bowling-ball rookie for Denver before his own ACL tear shortened 2022. Dobbins has been severely limited due to injuries (notice a theme here?) but is ultra-efficient when active alongside Lamar Jackson. And Cook is looking to go from situational speed to full-timer, replacing the departed Devin Singletary in Buffalo."- Cody Benjamin, CBS
As the author reasoned in his blurb, this group of players certainly shares the same trait: unavailability and health concerns.
All of the players in Benjamin's Tier 4B, though, actually come with what he termed "high-upside" in that all of them can surely produce like elite-level rushers as long as they can stay healthy for the full season racking up touches and putting up numbers.
Lamar Jackson also plays in favor of Dobbins keeping defenses honest and looking for potential scrambles coming from inside the pocket. That will always benefit a rusher like Dobbins, giving him more room to operate out of the backfield with fewer eyes locked on him.
To be fair, Benjamin did a good job in positioning Dobbins where he did. It's hard to find a place for him above those named better rushers than the Ravens veteran.
All Dobbins can do to raise the league-wide perception of his talents a year from hitting free agency is delivering the goods on the actual field and proving he's worth a hefty deal next March while staying healthy and playing weekly for Baltimore this season.