With the Ravens set to kick off their season in less than 20 days, young players especially have fought through camp in hopes of earning meaningful playing time this year. On a team with such impressive rushing talent, rookie running back J.K. Dobbins is one facing stiff competition from his veteran counterparts.
When the Ravens selected Dobbins out of Ohio State with the 55th overall pick on the second day of the NFL Draft, it came as somewhat of a surprise given the deep running back group that already existed in Baltimore and left many wondering what Dobbins’ role would be.
But according to NBC Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, Dobbins could very well become one of if not the main running back for the Ravens in his rookie season.
“I don’t know if he’ll get as many carries as a Mark Ingram,” Simms said on an episode of Chris Simms Unbuttoned. “It’ll be close, but I think when they have some of their bread and butter run plays where they’re like, “We’ve schemed this run game design for this defense this week,” they’ll favor putting J.K. Dobbins in the game for those type of plays. They’ll probably realize that he can capitalize on more.”
Simms made the case for why Dobbins and Ingram can coexist and complement each other’s playstyle in the Ravens run game this season. The veteran Ingram has been known for his short bursts and hard-hitting style while Dobbins is more reliable for the longer gains. Simms expects Baltimore to play to each player’s individual advantages and split the carries accordingly.
“Ingram will be the more trustworthy one – probably more the short-yardage guy,” he said. “When it gets into “Let’s try to hit a home run,” I think Dobbins will be there.”
In three seasons at Ohio State, Dobbins amassed almost 4,500 rushing yards on 725 carries. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry, rushed for 38 touchdowns and added another 655 yards and five touchdowns through the air for over 5,000 all-purpose yards.
Dobbins will certainly hold great value in Baltimore as running backs have become the keystone of their offense's success, which set the NFL single-season rushing record with 3,296 yards on the ground in 2019. The Ravens attempted 596 running plays last season, almost 100 more than the second-place 49ers, and will be able to use Dobbins to lighten the load on veteran players and Lamar Jackson.
However, Simms also encouraged the Ravens to use Dobbins wisely and take advantage of the entire running back group, using their depth to benefit them in the long run.
“Don’t overdo it with Dobbins,” he said. “Let’s make him last. You’ve got all these running backs. Let’s make his career in Baltimore more than two or three years. Let’s make it five or six. Use Gus Edwards. Use Mark Ingram. Use some of those other guys to where you can continue the stable of good running backs around Lamar Jackson.”
With Edwards, Ingram, Dobbins and Justice Hill as well as Jackson, the Ravens should be able to only further improve upon their record-setting 2019 campaign with Dobbins as a significant player in their success.
“They’ve built something special there where scheme and personnel really fit perfectly,” Simms said.