Friday, December 2, 2022

Ravens pushed to pick the best RB “since Adrian Peterson” in the 2023 NFL Draft

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Running back is a position where the Baltimore Ravens never seem to stop looking for the right option. Whether it’s hitting runners like JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards with draft picks or handing contracts to veterans Mike Davis and Kenyon Drake, the Ravens believe more in the backfield is better.

The quantity-over-quality approach usually produces good results, but one NFL analyst thinks the Ravens should pull a stud workhorse off the board in the 2023 draft. A recent draft played sent a college coach’s “three-phased” runback to Baltimore compared to Adrian Peterson.

Bijan Robinson is a perfect fit for the Ravens, according to CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards: “Eleven running backs have snapped for Baltimore the last two seasons. JK Dobbins missed the entire 2021 season and has already missed five games as part of the current season. The Ravens rely on the run game, so a three-phase player like Robinson increases their potential immensely.”

Texas Longhorns star Robinson was praised by several observers including TCU head coach Sonny Dykes. He told that Second Thoughts Podcast (h/d 247 sports) Robinson is the best college since Peterson thrived in Oklahoma:

That’s high praise, but it’s hard to argue that Robinson doesn’t fit the mold of an all-down pro ready back. The 20-year-old is the complete package of brute power and blistering speed.

Those qualities have helped the 6’0″, 215-pounder amassed 1,129 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground in just nine games, according to Sports Reference. Robinson has also added 314 yards receiving and a pair of touchdown catches to his stat line. He’s already surpassed the 1,012 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns AP managed in his final season with the Sooners.

Putting Robinson in one of the pros’ best-planned runs would add the big-play threat the Ravens lack on the ground. Robinson’s 5.9 yards-per-carry average reflects his power and acceleration, as does the number of missed tackles he forces and the gains he makes after contact.

These two things are counted by PFF College:

Robinson would need to replicate those numbers with the pros to have the same impact Peterson had in 2007 as a rookie for the Minnesota Vikings. Luckily, the Ravens offer a system that makes almost any running back look good.

Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman wouldn’t run out of opportunities to plan big wins for a defenseman with Robinson’s talents. An elite leadback would also take the Ravens to another level offensively, despite the success of their committee approach this season.

Edwards’ reference to Dobbins’ injury history is instructive as the Ravens’ second-round pick in 2020 would likely be the return if he could stay healthy. Instead, Dobbins has struggled to get back on the field after tearing his ACL, LCL, meniscus and hamstring in 2021.

With Dobbins on the shelf, the Ravens had to trust others to carry the burden. Sometimes that means letting Edwards loose, like when the latter rushed for 66 yards and two points in a 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 7.

In Week 9 it was Drake’s turn against the New Orleans Saints and the seven-year veteran responded with 93 yards and two touchdowns on the ground:

Justice Hill and Davis have also shared carries in the Ravens committee backfield. Roman knows his system, coupled with double threat quarterback Lamar Jackson’s threat, will tear holes for anyone.

At the moment it works to produce solid numbers for a squad of tough and accomplished runners, but the combination of Jackson and Roman would make a talent like Robinson absolutely dominant at this level.

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