Gus Edwards, like most people who intently watched the Ravens’ draft in April, was surprised when the Ravens selected Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins 55th overall.
But it’s not because he didn't think the team needed him.
Edwards said he was taken aback when the Ravens selected Dobbins, but only because he didn’t think Dobbins would be on the board late in the second round.
“I was surprised, because I thought that he was, like, the best back in the class,” Edwards said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. “We definitely got better. It’s going to be difficult to do better than what we did last year with breaking the rushing record, but I think it’s a step forward. It’s a definite step towards that, because he’s a great back and all. He’s going to make the competition that much better in the running back room.”
Dobbins, who was selected after Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor and Cam Akers, was — at least statistically — one of college football’s best running backs a season ago.
He rushed for 2,003 yards on 303 carries and scored 21 rushing touchdowns for the Buckeyes. Dobbins didn’t work out at the NFL Combine due to an injury, but at 5-foot-9 and 209 pounds, he’s still one of the most explosive backs in the class.
On paper, it’s clear to see Dobbins' addition as a negative development for Edwards in terms of his touches. But still, he’s confident there will be enough touches to go around.
“I think the Ravens went through it last year with three,” Edwards said. “I think (offensive coordinator) coach (Greg) Roman is just committed to it. It seems like coach Harbaugh is committed to it. Everybody is just throwing around a, ‘four-headed monster.’ I think everybody is committed to it and really wants to do it. That’s the first step and we’ll see where it goes. I’m excited, it’s a chance to make history.”
The Ravens rushed for 3,296 yards on 596 carries a season ago led by quarterback Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, both of whom rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
Edwards rushed for 5.3 yards-per-carry on 133 attempts, totaling 711 yards and two touchdowns. All together, the trio made up 89.9 percent of the team’s rush attempts as Ingram averaged 13.5 carries, Jackson averaged 11.7 and Edwards averaged 8.3. As a team, they averaged 37.3 per game. Justice Hill, then a rookie, had just 58 carries in 16 games last year.
Now, with Dobbins in the mix — with second round draft capital to boot — the Ravens backfield just got a whole lot more crowded.
But Edwards, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2020 season, has an opportunity in front of him to prove to the Ravens, or any of the other 31 teams, that he’s worth committing to as a No. 1 running back.
“I can’t say that I’m not looking forward to it,” Edwards said. “It’s a great opportunity that I’m in. I’m doing everything the same. I’ve always been a hard worker. I think that’s how I want myself to be remembered as — somebody that works hard. That’s what the team thinks of me. I’m going to be in a great position with a great team, a team that wants to run the ball. Everything is in front of me, I just have (to take) another step forward.”
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