AFC North

Assessing the Ravens RB Room

The Baltimore Ravens have arguably the most unique situation in their backfield. Between an aging-but-effective Mark Ingram, speedy Justice Hill, bruising Gus “The Bus” Edwards, and an electrifying running back that takes the snaps, it’s difficult to predict who will take the bulk of the touches in Baltimore. Take note that I do truly believe Lamar Jackson is a quality quarterback, however, we will focus primarily on rushing in this article.

Excluding Jackson, there’s little contention regarding which back will lead the team in touches given good health. Mark Ingram is everything and more than what the Ravens signed him for. Not only has he been efficient with 5.0 yards per carry and 15 total touchdowns, but he brought a swagger to the team that we never really saw from him in New Orleans. Great veteran signing by the Ravens. The biggest question is, what happens if Ingram goes down?

The primary candidates, pre-draft, are Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Judging by fantasy start-ups and general communications on social media, the world seems to believe that Hill, not Edwards, will be the next man up. So, let’s take a look.

In 2019, Edwards rushed 133 times for 711 yards (5.3 ypc) compared to Hill’s 58 rushes for 225 yards (3.9 ypc). Neither player was particularly prominent in the passing game, as neither exceeded more than 10 receptions, though Hill did have more than Edwards with significantly fewer snaps. You might be surprised by some of the statistics in Baltimore’s backfield in 2019. Firstly, though known as a bruising back, Edwards finished 2019 with 5 carries of 20 yards of more while Ingram had only 6 with nearly 70 more touches, Hill had none. Secondly, Edwards converted for a first down on almost 35% of his carries which far exceeded Ingram (26.2%) and Hill (17.2%).

What does this mean? Nothing, yet. However, assuming the Ravens don’t add another running-back during the draft, there could be a surprise in the future for many fans and fantasy advocates who believe that Hill will be the next bell-cow in Baltimore. We must not forget that Edwards is only 25 years old. He has a few solid years to go. Not to mention, if you watched Baltimore play in 2019, “The Bus” looked like he added a hemi to his engine, he could MOVE.

What I expect: Baltimore has resigned Edwards on a cap-friendly deal that will eventually turn into a bigger payday. He fits the mold of what Baltimore’s offense needs. The read-option is an effective play with a mobile quarterback that can attack the edge. Lamar Jackson can clearly expose an unsealed edge. What makes this more effective is if the defense must also respect the rush between the tackles. A back like Ingram or Edwards can threaten the interior of the field so teams hesitate to process which is actually going to tote the ball. Justice Hill, at just 200lbs, just isn’t the player to rush towards defensive tackles. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Edwards, not Hill, that becomes the lead man in Baltimore in the future.

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