Improving their running game remains a major offseason focus for the Ravens.
The Ravens had just 383 rushing attempts in 2015, the fewest in team history. When they tried to run, they weren’t very effective, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. Meanwhile, with former starting offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele signing with the Raiders during free agency, it leaves the Ravens with a gap to fill on their offensive line.
Here are three offseason moves the Ravens could make before training camp to address the running game:
1. Draft a guard
Expect the Ravens to draft at least one offensive lineman. In his latest mock draft, my colleague Ben Standig has the Ravens taking Kansas St. guard Cody Whitehair in the second round.
John Urschel or Ryan Jensen could become the starting left guard, but the Ravens want competition and depth once training camp begins. There would be nothing wrong with adding a young offensive lineman to soften the blow of losing Osemele.
2. Draft a left tackle
I think it’s very likely the Ravens go defense in the first round. But what if defensive studs like Ohio St. defensive end Joey Bosa, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, and Florida St. defensive back Jalen Ramsey are all gone by the No. 6 pick? In that case, the Ravens’ first-round choice could be Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley, especially if the Ravens don’t trade down. Having Stanley to push often-injured left tackle Eugene Monroe might bring out the best in Monroe, and would give the Ravens a Plan B should they decide to cut Monroe after June 1.
3. Sign running back Trent Richardson
The Ravens are still expected to sign Richardson before off-season workouts begin in mid-April, assuming Richardson keeps himself in shape.
Nobody is expecting Richardson to set the world on fire after his brief and so-far very disappointing NFL career.
However, if Richardson sticks with the Ravens, his physicality could improve their short-yardage running game. The Ravens weren’t good enough on third-and-short, fourth-and-short, and in the red zone. Those are areas where Richardson might help, if he’s truly dedicated to resurrecting his NFL career.
The Ravens already have depth at running back with Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West. But their interest in Richardson shows how determined they are to leave no stone unturned. If they are going to win more in 2016, the Ravens believe they have to run more, and run more effectively.