The Ravens ran the ball more than anybody else in the NFL last year. They ran it better than anybody in NFL history. Now they have drafted stud running back J.K. Dobbins.
Baltimore made an already dangerous running back corps lethal by taking Dobbins, a 5-foot-9, 209-pound running back out of Ohio State.
It was a bit of a surprising pick, however. Running back was certainly not a top area of need for the Ravens, who have Pro Bowl veteran Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill already on the roster. Even Dobbins was taken aback to hear from General Manager Eric DeCosta.
"I was definitely surprised when I got the call," Dobbins said. "I was waiting for a while; it was a longer wait than I expected. But I'm glad the Ravens are giving me a chance."
The Ravens had a wide receiver (Denzel Mims) and linebacker (Zack Baun) available – two players often mocked to them by analysts – at No. 55, but Dobbins' talent was too much to pass up. DeCosta said he expected Dobbins to go somewhere between picks 25 and 30 in the first round.
"We thought he might have been the first back [drafted]," DeCosta said. "This happened all the time with Ozzie [Newsome], these great players would just fall down the board and we would take them. You prepare yourself for it, and when it happens, you've got to be prepared to take the guy. We didn't really expect it. I don't think anybody really did.
"We just had to take him. He's just a talented guy and it just made too much sense for us not to take him."
Ingram II can still be the lead dog, but Dobbins is a great complementary weapon who could be groomed to take over the lead role down the road.
Dobbins was third in rushing yards (2,003) and rushing touchdowns (21) in the country last year. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry.
Dobbins became the first running back in Ohio State history (one rich with running backs) to ever top the 2,000-yard mark. He's also the first Ohio State player ever to rush for 1,000 or more yards as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
Dobbins has the potential to be a complete NFL running back. He also had 23 catches for 247 yards and two touchdowns last season and is a strong blocker in the passing game.
Watching the Ravens' record-setting offense last year, Dobbins couldn't resist from thinking how well he would do in that unit. Now he'll get the chance.
"I'm an offensive weapon," Dobbins said. "I can do anything you want me to do – I can catch the ball, run it, I can block. I think I'll help Lamar Jackson and this offense thrive."
He finished sixth in the Heisman race, but still garnered second-team Associated Press All-American honors and won the Big Ten Running Back of the Year award.
After a difficult 2018 season in which he shared the lead role, Dobbins came back even more determined the following year.
Dobbins' father Lawrence, who also played running back La Grange High, passed away from a stroke at the age of 33. Dobbins said it made him mature a lot faster.
He already showed great maturity in the minutes after being drafted by the Ravens. He'll have to earn his spot in a talented running backs room.
"Joining Mark Ingram, I always watched him. He's a great player and I can learn a lot from him," Dobbins said. "It's a blessing to be on this team and I want to soak it all in. I want to learn from everyone, come in and do my job."
Having too much talent is never a bad thing for a team that leans on the running game as much as Baltimore. Quarterback Lamar Jackson, who led the team in rushing last season, also said this week that he doesn't plan to carry the ball as much next year.
We're a team that likes to run the football, so having running backs is really, really important," DeCosta said. "He's a guy that's, in my opinion, one of the very best in college football this year. He's a very talented guy with electric skills that played at a very high level in a very good conference for one of the best teams in college football. I think he's going to be a very dangerous player for us and give us the depth to do what we like to do."
The Ravens selected Ray Rice in the second round in 2008 when they already had productive veteran Willie McGahee on the roster. Rice, who had a similar size to Dobbins, went to three Pro Bowls and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII.
"I honestly didn't know I was going to receive a call from Baltimore," Dobbins said. "God works in mysterious ways and here I am today. … Hopefully I can come, do some great things and help the rushing kings stay on top."