Could Dobbins Rush for 1,000 Yards?
The rave reviews for J.K. Dobbins continue to roll in and one pundit believes he could have a monster rookie season.
Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner boldly predicted that Dobbins will be one of three rookie running backs who will rush for over 1,000 yards this season.
"The bevy of talent at the top of this running back class was insane," Renner wrote. "There were five guys on PFF's draft board who would have given Josh Jacobs competition for RB1 if they were in the 2019 class. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, J.K. Dobbins and the aforementioned Jonathan Taylor are all in terrific situations to go for over 1,000 yards, and Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift and Antonio Gibson are all liable to take the reins in their respective offenses, as well."
Dobbins was a workhorse back at Ohio State and is in the right offense to make an impact early in his career. The Ravens were far and away the league's top rushing team last season and ran the ball almost 100 attempts more than the next closest team (596).
There's no doubt Dobbins will be involved, but how much remains to be seen. At least three players (Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II, and Gus Edwards) had over 100 rushing attempts last season. Ingram led the backfield with 202 and is primed for another strong season.
"Ingram is now 30 years old and, regardless of age, running backs take enough hits that depth becomes very critical," Sports Illustrated’s Tyler Stephen wrote. "A committee approach seems likely for a Baltimore team that rushed a league-high (by a wide margin) 57 percent of the time last year, but also don't be surprised if the youthful rookie steals the show at some point."
It's likely we could see Dobbins transition into the backfield much like Ray Rice did when he was drafted in 2008. Rice saw 107 attempts behind Willis McGahee before taking over as the starter the following season.
Others like Derek Lofland of Fantasy Pros think it could play out like the New Orleans Saints backfield of Ingram and Alvin Kamara in 2017.
"I am not sure both will finish in the top-10, because unlike New Orleans with Drew Brees that year, Jackson also runs the ball from the quarterback position and there may not be enough footballs for all three players to put up monster rushing numbers," Lofland wrote. "What I do foresee happening is Dobbins becoming the featured back in the second half of the season and is one of the best rookies in fantasy football."
Mark Andrews, Dobbins Among Training Camp Standouts
The start of the NFL season is right around the corner and less than a week from now, the Ravens will put the final touches on their 53-man roster.
The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer handed out some superlatives and among the standouts were two players who are expected to have a significant impact on the offensive side of the ball.
Mark Andrews was Shaffer's "Most Valuable Camper."
"Andrews played less than half of the Ravens' offensive snaps last year and was still one of the NFL's best tight ends," Shaffer wrote. "With Hayden Hurst shipped off to the Atlanta Falcons this offseason, Jackson and the Ravens may lean even more on Andrews in their passing game.
"That shouldn't be a problem. It might even be the best thing for their offense. Over two weeks in camp, Andrews has gotten open whenever he's wanted to. Too strong for defensive backs to handle and too quick for linebackers to keep up with, the third-year pro has easily been the Ravens' most consistent skill player — even more so than Jackson, the NFL's reigning Most Valuable Player."
As Shaffer noted, Hurst's departure could open up an even bigger target share for Andrews, who led all tight ends with 10 touchdowns last season. Andrews and Jackson have a good connection, and it's clear Jackson trusts his tight end as much as any pass catcher in the Ravens' offense.
Last week we highlighted the praise for Dobbins and it's continuing. He finished as Shaffer's "Most Impressive Rookie."
"With every jump cut out of harm's way, every highlight-reel catch over a hapless defender, Dobbins looks more and more essential to the Ravens' offense in 2020 and beyond," Shaffer wrote. "There are still flaws in his game — the occasional drop or missed block — and he's unlikely to jump Pro Bowl incumbent Mark Ingram II by Week 1. But his speed, passion and football IQ have been apparent since he bounded onto the field."
Rookie wide receiver James Proche's "full-extension, catch-up-to-the-ball dive" made Shaffer's "Most Jaw-Dropping Play," and his skills also earned praise from pundits throughout camp.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens' defense is a unit many are excited about. That's because they retained their core talent and added a player in Calais Campbell who Shaffer picked as the "Most Important Arrival."
"Campbell, even at age 33, remains an impact player," Shaffer wrote. "He's snuffed out runs and flashed inside as a pass rusher, just as he did over the past three years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But his influence has been evident after practice, too, rallying his fellow linemen after one long morning to run just a couple more times with him."
It already feels like the Campbell addition has well-exceeded the fifth-round pick the Ravens traded to acquire him from Jacksonville. Campbell has been a mentor to rookie defensive lineman like Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington, along with bringing run-stuffing and pass rush production to the front seven.
Pro Football Network’s Matt Williamson ranked Campbell as the 16th-best pass rusher entering the season.
"The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner is an outstanding addition to an already great Ravens defense that last year was incredibly blitz-dependent to get to opposing quarterbacks," Williamson wrote. "It might be wise to limit Campbell's snaps at his age. However, he has great versatility along the line of scrimmage as a big end on early downs and as a very disruptive interior force in passing situations. Campbell is a monster against the run."
DeShon Elliott 'Next Up' for Ravens at Safety
The departure of Earl Thomas III has left a void for the Ravens to fill at safety, but there's a growing confidence that DeShon Elliott can fill it. NFL Network's Brian Baldinger said the third-year safety is "next up."
Baldinger broke down Elliott's tape, highlighting what he brings to the table in Wink Martindale's defense.
"One thing he has at 210 pounds is speed and recognition," Baldinger said. "He's not afraid to use it and take guys off their feet. When he sees it, he goes to get it. It's constant."
While most of Elliott's defensive snaps have come during the preseason, he's shown flashes of starting safety potential. Baldinger also pointed out how Marlon Humphrey celebrated after Elliott forced incompletion against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"You can tell guys like playing with him, and they want to see him do good," Baldinger said. "That's just not a normal reaction. That's the reaction of a guy that they know can play."
We've talked about the possibility of the Ravens pursuing a free-agent safety, but NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks told Press Box that Elliott should have the first crack as the starter.
"I would give him first crack at it because players will tell you exactly what you need to know about other players," Brooks said. "In the rumor mill, you've heard players say, 'He's ready for the role.' Players don't say that just to be saying that. They feel confident enough that if he goes out there, he is going to be fine."