Top 5 Running Backs That Make Sense For Ravens


Running back isn't a pressing need for the Ravens after the team re-signed starter Justin Forsett to a three-year deal this offseason.

But Baltimore could use more strength, particularly following Bernard Pierce's release. General Manager Ozzie Newsome has also said Forsett would be a good mentor to a younger running back.

This year's running back class is strong, with a lot of quality at the top and depth throughout.

Here are five top running backs that make sense for the Ravens:

Todd Gurley, Georgia
Junior; 6-foot-1, 236 pounds
2014 Stats: 123 attempts, 911 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns; 12 receptions, 57 yards
Projected Round: 1st

Scouting Report: Gurley is an extremely physical runner, often requiring multiple tacklers to bring him down. At the same time, he's got incredible burst and pull away speed that also landed him a job as Georgia's kick returner (where he scored two touchdowns). Gurley is coming off a season-ending ACL knee injury, and didn't allow combine doctors to examine the knee, raising some red flags.

Why He Makes Sense: Gurley would be a good compliment to the smaller, more shifty Forsett. Once healthy, he could immediately become the Ravens' short-yardage and goal-line back while he grows into much more. He is also a weapon in the passing game, which is a must for the Ravens' system. The first-round pick could be something special.

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Junior; 6-foot-1, 213 pounds
2014 Stats: 343 attempts, 2,587 rushing yards, 29 rushing touchdowns; 19 receptions, 153 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns
Projected Round: 1st

Scouting Report: Gordon is very quick and was incredibly productive in college. He broke the single-game record for rushing yards with 408 against Nebraska in November. He has great balance and acceleration, getting to top speed in a flash.

Why He Makes Sense: Gordon worked with Ravens Running Backs Coach Thomas Hammock during his freshman and sophomore years. Gordon credited much of his success to Hammock's work with him in college, so the two could rekindle that magic in the NFL. Gordon fits the Ravens' stretch zone run scheme well, although he's unproven as a pass catcher.

Jay Ajayi, Boise State
Junior; 6-foot-0, 216 pounds
2014 Stats: 347 attempts, 1,823 rushing yards, 28 touchdowns; 50 receptions, 535 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns
Projected Round: 2nd

Scouting Report: Ajayi is a very balanced running back. He became the first player in FBS history to post at least 1,800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a single season. He's a quick-footed prospect who runs low and refuses to go down. He's explosive in his cuts and uses lateral jump cuts well to escape tacklers.

Why He Makes Sense: The Ravens like a running back who can do it all. Ajayi has the potential to make an immediate contribution alongside Forsett, and the two have similar running styles. Forsett could tutor the youngster.

David Johnson, Northern Iowa
Senior; 6-foot-1, 229 pounds
2014 Stats: 287 attempts, 1,553 rushing yards, 17 rushing touchdowns; 38 receptions, 536 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
Projected Round: 3rd

Scouting Report: Johnson's best attribute may be his receiving potential, as he has good body control, soft hands and good vision to create yards after hauling in the catch. Johnson is a big, strong runner who is tough to take down and not afraid to charge into a pile. He also has kick returner experience.

Why He Makes Sense: As is the case with Ajayi, Johnson's versatility is attractive. The Ravens aren't afraid to take players from small schools either. Johnson can develop as a professional behind Forsett, who can carry the load in 2015.

T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
Junior; 6-foot-2, 221 pounds
2014 Stats: 194 rushing attempts, 979 yards, 11 touchdowns; 15 receptions, 180 receiving yards; 1 receiving touchdown
Projected Round: 3rd

Scouting Report: Yeldon has a taller, leaner build with a more upright running style, which has made him more susceptible to fumbles (a problem in college). However, he has good body control and is very elusive making lateral cuts. He has impressive athleticism and vision. He was the first back in school history to eclipse 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons.

Why He Makes Sense: Yeldon comes out of Alabama, a program the Ravens are quite familiar with via General Manager Ozzie Newsome. Newsome has shown a penchant for liking players from his alma mater. Yeldon is NFL ready after playing in the nation's premier college football conference.

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