Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens have a similar quandary: a seeming excess of running backs. Each AFC North team has pretty consistently drafted the position over the past few years, the former taking one in each of the past four drafts, though the group for the latter is led by 2019 free agent signing Mark Ingram.
Already with Ingram, 2018 lead rusher Gus Edwards, and 2019 rookie Justice Hill, the Ravens continued to invest high in the position during the 2020 NFL Draft, using their second-round selection to add J.K. Dobbins, a player that they believed was a first-round talent.
Coupled with the fact that quarterback Lamar Jackson has set new records for rushing attempts at his position in each of the past two seasons, and in fact was the Ravens’ leading rusher in 2019 with a positional historical-best 1200-plus rushing yards, the question being asked is how you make use of all of these runners.
For offensive coordinator Greg Roman, it’s not an issue. “We’re fortunate to have a group like that. The more the merrier”, he told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ll be able to utilize all of those guys as we move forward. You can’t have enough really good running backs”.
Even with Jackson making his presence felt in the ground game, Ingram had an exceptionally strong and efficient season, rushing for over 1000 yards on just 202 attempts, averaging five yards per carry with 10 rushing touchdowns.
“Mark’s obviously, in my opinion, one of the best running backs in the league over time”, Roman said of his lead back. “He still maximizes runs as good or better than anybody that I see in the league”.
“We’ve got three younger guys that are really coming on”, he added of the rest of the group. “Our offense, we don’t look at it as a problem at all. We look it as a really good thing. I think we’ll continue to develop them, and develop things that we do with each of them. Most of the guys can do pretty much everything that we do, so they’re not typecast”.
The Ravens as a team rushed nearly 600 times last season, setting an NFL record with 3296 rushing yards on the season, with 21 rushing touchdowns. In addition to Jackson and Ingram topping 1000 yards, Edwards also had over 700, and Hill rushed for over 200.
Ingram still figures to be the lead back in 2020, but they will be looking to work in Dobbins as much as possible in preparation for him ultimately taking over a starting role, perhaps as early as 2021, with Edwards being a restricted free agent after this season.