Kenyan Drake was the Gatorade Football Player of the Year in Georgia his senior year of high school. He played for Alabama. He was a third-round NFL draft pick.
Drake has been a hot commodity his entire life. So when the Raiders released him on Aug. 23, it was a new experience for the playmaking running back.
Drake wasn't a free agent for long. He visited with the Ravens while they were out in Arizona for their second preseason game, then signed a one-year deal with them two days later in Baltimore.
Less than two weeks later, in the Ravens' 2022 season opener, Drake was their lead running back. He started Sunday's game against the Jets, got a team-high 11 carries, and 59% of the backfield snaps. Pretty impressive for a guy that hadn't been around too long.
Speaking the week before the opener, Drake said he learned to embrace that nothing stays the same, especially in the week-to-week turnover of the NFL.
"It was my first time being cut from a team or really being rejected in any aspect of my life," Drake said. "The last couple weeks, I had to accept it with open arms. It proved to be a reset for me. It gave me a different perspective to build on. I'm just happy to be here."
Drake's Ravens debut didn't come with grand stats, as Baltimore struggled to get the running game going, especially early in the game. He finished with just 31 yards on 11 carries. Drake's best run, a 12-yard sweep around the right edge, was called back on a holding penalty.
"He's still learning the offense, in terms of the angles and the eyes, and just assignments in formation, where to line up, routes to run, protections," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"There's carryover, but it's not the same from team to team, so some of that stuff was there. Then it got better as the game went on, I thought, and he started getting a little bit more confident [with] his running style. He's a veteran back, knows how to run the ball, still young enough to have a lot of juice."
Drake isn't far removed from a season in which he nearly rushed for 1,000 yards. With Arizona in 2020, he put up 955 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground and caught 25 passes for 137 yards. He signed a lucrative two-year deal with the Raiders last offseason but didn't take off and suffered a broken ankle on Dec. 8. Getting cut by the Raiders was another tough blow, but the Ravens came calling soon thereafter.
"I didn't know exactly what to expect other than they were giving me the opportunity to come in and help a premier team in a very competitive division," Drake said. "I'm a competitor at the end of the day. I just want to compete, play my game and ball, fit into this scheme and help in any way possible.
"I'm out there and they're throwing me in any and every situation. I'm taking it all in stride. Once the bright lights come on, that's when I make the most of my opportunity."