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Depth at running back in draft reduces need for Ravens to trade up

Depth at running back in draft reduces need for Ravens to trade up

Should the Ravens trade up from No. 16 to get an impact running back in the draft?  Not according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.

The Ravens’ need for more playmakers is obvious, and coach John Harbaugh says the offense could use another back to complement Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West.

In his first mock draft, Kiper had Leonard Fournette of LSU (No. 8, Panthers) and Dalvin Cook of Florida St. (No. 12, Browns) as the first two backs off the board, with the Ravens taking Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers with the 16th pick.

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Kiper says the Ravens can get a quality back in the first three rounds, with this year’s draft deep at the position.

“I don’t know that trading up for a running back the grade of Fournette will be high enough to say he’s in that (Ezekiel) Elliott stratosphere,” Kiper said during a recent conference call.

“You have a lot of depth at running back too, with (Christian) McCaffrey, D’Onta Foreman from Texas, and there’s a lot of other backs in this draft that I really like, and of course the Ravens got Kenneth Dixon in the fourth round last year which was a heck of a pick for them. Matthew Dayes from N. C. State, you have Jamaal Williams at BYU, De’Angelo Henderson at Coastal Carolina is an interesting kid. I don’t think there will be a team looking to trade up for the running back this year.”

West led the Ravens with 774 yards rushing in 2016, with Dixon adding 302 yards. However, every other team in the AFC North had a back with more yards than West. Le’Veon Bell (1,268 yards) led the Steelers, Isaiah Crowell (952 yards) led the Browns, and Jeremy Hill (839 yards) led the Bengals.

While the Ravens have other pressing needs like cornerback, wide receiver, and pass rusher, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them take a running back early.

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Orioles great Cal Ripken: Lamar Jackson is 'the No. 8 in Baltimore now’

Orioles great Cal Ripken: Lamar Jackson is 'the No. 8 in Baltimore now’

There's just something special about wearing No. 8 in Baltimore.

Orioles legend Cal Ripken wore that number on his back for 2,632 consecutive games, a record that will almost certainly never be broken. He was named an All-Star 19 times during his time in Baltimore, along with having two AL MVP awards, two Gold Gloves and eight Silver Sluggers to his name.

While Ripken's No. 8 will be honored in Baltimore forever, there's a new No. 8 chasing his glory. That would be Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

In just his second season and first full year as a starter, Jackson took the NFL by storm. The recently turned 23-year-old led Baltimore to an AFC-best 14-2 record while leading the NFL in touchdown passes with 36. The likely MVP broke Michael Vick's single-season quarterback rushing yards record this season, too, while only committing seven turnovers on the year.

"It’s his time, though," Ripken told The Athletic. "He is No. 8. He’s the No. 8 in Baltimore now."

Ripken's praise for Baltimore's new No. 8 didn't stop there.

"I was always excited to watch the Ravens, but I mean, you’re particularly excited seeing some of the things he does," Ripken said on Jackson. “You think you’re gonna see something that you haven’t seen before. He’s making people miss him and fall down with some of his moves."

This past offseason, Jackson threw out the first pitch at an Orioles game with a custom No. 8 jersey on his back. Jackson thanked Ripken for letting him "borrow" his jersey for the day.

Jackson has plenty of years to go to match Ripken's longevity, but there's a tremendous amount of respect from both No. 8's in the Charm City.

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Lamar Jackson gets help warming up for the Pro Bowl from Drew Brees' son

Lamar Jackson gets help warming up for the Pro Bowl from Drew Brees' son

Lamar Jackson’s season may have ended a little sooner than he would’ve liked, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to have a little fun over the offseason.

The presumptive MVP is in Miami for the Pro Bowl festivities, figuring to be a popular target for young fans to look out for. Among those fans is Baylen Brees, the son of future Hall of Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback reached out on Instagram to tell Jackson his son hoped to meet him.

That evidently came to fruition, as Jackson was spotted throwing the football with a group of kids—Baylen among them.

Jackson has already taken plenty of time to hang out with kids, messing around with them at the hotel and on the field.

In good spirits, Jackson will represent the Ravens and the AFC at the Pro Bowl on Sunday.

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