It wasn’t too long before the 2020 NFL Draft that Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram told reporters that he felt he could continue to play at the highest level for several years to come, despite having turned 30 years old already. He rushed for over 1000 yards last year and scored 15 touchdowns, including five receiving scores.
Then the Ravens used their second-round pick to draft one of the highest-graded running backs in the draft, J.K. Dobbins, with the 55th overall selection. Baltimore already drafted a running back last year in Justice Hill, while former undrafted free agent Gus Edwards heads into his fourth season.
This was the highest selection that they have used on the running back position since they used the exact same pick back in 2008 on Ray Rice out of Rutgers, who for a brief period of time was legitimately in the discussion for being the best current running back. They have never used a higher pick on the position.
“Instead of just being selfish, I think you always need to take a younger player along and just be open, be transparent, teach them some of your successes, your failures and help bring them along so they can have great careers”, Ingram said about the Ravens drafting Dobbins. “It’s all about passing the game down, passing the love down”.
A former first-round pick, Ingram has never spent any part of his career as the sole lead back. I just look this up days ago, but I believe his highest rush count for a single season was something like 230, and he’s heading into year 10. He only averages 12.6 carries per game for his career.
In other words, it won’t exactly be new for him to be asked to share the load. Even last year, the team’s lead runner was actually quarterback Lamar Jackson, and he is going to continue to be a big part of the running game, no matter what he says.
The Ravens set an NFL record for rushing yards in a single season during the 2019 campaign, and they want to make sure that they continue to be stocked up in the backfield. Ingram suffered an ankle injury at the end of last season, and his inability to perform was noticeable in their postseason loss.
Edwards wasn’t able to step up, and Hill was too unpolished to contribute, so they are hoping that Dobbins can come in and be that insurance, and Ingram’s eventual successor, somebody who can work with Jackson for many years to come.
“I came in with some O.G.’s that kicked game to me – Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory”, Ingram said about his start in New Orleans. “I was in a good room as a youngster. Being with Alvin, being with Lamar, being with Gus and Justice last year, the running backs we have here now, it’s just all about passing the game forward. Competition breeds excellence”.