Do Ravens Need To Draft A Running Back High?


Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said he wants running back back.

Forsett said during the Pro Bowl that his heart is in Baltimore.

But if the Ravens don't re-sign Forsett, an unrestricted free agent as of March 10, Baltimore will be in the market for a No. 1 running back.

While Baltimore struck gold with the bargain free-agent signing of Forsett last offseason, the draft has proven to be an excellent place to find premier running backs.

The question is, would the Ravens have to invest a high draft pick to get a lead rusher?

"Arian Foster went undrafted," Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz simply said.

"I don't think you need to take any player high to get a stud. You can get studs anywhere in the draft at any position." 

A perfect example is Forsett himself. He was a seventh-round pick in 2008 by the Seattle Seahawks and just went to the Pro Bowl after getting his first chance to be a starter.

Running back has been somewhat devalued in the draft. There hasn't been one drafted in the first round the past two seasons. Only one running back has been selected in the top 10 since 2010 and that was Trent Richardson by the Cleveland Browns.

But that doesn't mean there isn't top talent to be had. It just may come in the second or third rounds.

Here are the top 10 running backs in rushing yards during the 2014 regular season and their draft position:

  1. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys: Round 3, 2011
  2. Le'Veon Bell, Steelers: Round 2, 2013
  3. LeSean McCoy, Eagles: Round 2, 2009
  4. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks: Round 1, 2007
  5. Justin Forsett, Ravens: Round 7, 2008
  6. Arian Foster, Texans: Undrafted, 2009
  7. Eddie Lacy, Packers: Round 2, 2013
  8. Jeremy Hill, Bengals: Round 2, 2014
  9. Frank Gore, 49ers: Round 3, 2005
  10. Lamar Miller, Dolphins: Round 4, 2012

While Hortiz doesn't think you have to draft a running back high to find a gem, he didn't rule out the possibility. Staying true to the Ravens' motto of best player available, Hortiz said teams will draft running backs in the first round if they value that player enough.

The two running backs with first-round potential are Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Georgia's Todd Gurley.

Gordon finished last season with a staggering 2,587 yards, including a single-game record 408 rushing yards in three quarters versus Nebraska, which was broken a week later. Gurley entered 2014 with tons of hype, and got off to a roaring start before being suspended for four games. He tore his ACL in his first game back, ending his junior season.

"If there is a guy teams think is a stud, they're going to take him," Hortiz said. "Whether that's the eighth pick of the draft, or the 28th or the 58th pick, that's where you take them.

"There are positions teams may value over running back, but ultimately, if you value the player, you value the player."

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