JK Dobbins' Presence on the Ravens Should Make the NFL's Best Rushing Attack Even Better
Adding to an already intimidating rushing attack, the Baltimore Ravens selected Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins with the 55th overall selection. Entering into the Ravens' system, look for Dobbins to initially split the running back snaps with incumbent Mark Ingram, but eventually, overtake him as the perfect rushing complement to Lamar Jackson.
Dobbins' Dominant Career with Ohio State
At a stout 5'9" and 209 lbs, Dobbins is the prototype for a compact, punishing running back and he lived up to that description as a three-year starter with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Beginning in 2017 as a true freshman starter, Dobbins rushed for over 1,000 yards every season and ended his collegiate career with 5,104 yards from scrimmage.
After a relatively disappointing sophomore season which saw him rush for "only" 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns, Dobbins responded with 2,003 rushing yards and 6.7 yards per carry in 2019, ranking top 15 in yards per rush in FBS - higher than all running backs selected ahead of him in the draft.
In his masterful junior season which saw Dobbins earn Big Ten Running Back of the Year and second-team All-American awards, he was much more than just a volume runner with a strong yards per attempt number, frequently breaking off long runs and shedding tacklers left and right. According to Pro Football Focus, Dobbins ranked first in the nation with 31 carries of 15-plus yards and fourth in the country with 1,208 yards after contact. But Dobbins was perhaps most impressive against top competition. In 2019, the Buckeyes faced eight teams that ranked in the top 25 in rushing defense in FBS. His performances in those games were nothing short of spectacular.
JK Dobbins faced a top-25 run defense in over half his games last season, the results:
18-174-1 vs Clemson
33-172-1 vs Wisconsin
31-211-4 vs Michigan
36-157-2 vs Penn St
20-163-2 vs Wisconsin
18-121-1 vs Northwestern
24-172-1 vs Michigan St
17-141-2 vs Cincinnati
— Corey March (@corey_march1) March 30, 2020
March also noted that Dobbins' yards per attempt against those teams was 6.5 yards per attempt, while all other running backs could only muster three yards per rush.
There is not much that is a negative in Dobbins' game, but he is best suited as a between the tackles, bruising running back as he lacks the elusiveness in space to make his own running lanes, and he would rather run over and through his opponent than try to find a way to run around them. Dobbins may be headed for solely a first and second down role in the NFL, although he can certainly be serviceable in the passing game as he totaled 49 catches for 532 yards and four touchdowns in his final two collegiate seasons.
What to Expect with the Ravens
The rich get richer as the Ravens -- who by all accounts had the top rushing attack in the NFL in 2019 -- get one of the draft's best pure runners. Last season behind a stout offensive line, both Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards ranked in the top 10 among all running back with at least 50 rush attempts in numberFire's Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush. Lamar Jackson, of course, is the most prolific rushing quarterback in the league, and now he has a full stable of available rushers in his backfield.
Dobbins gets to immediately jump into a snap competition with Ingram, where the rookie will look to compete for the starter's role, especially as Ingram plays the 2020 season at age 31.
The Dobbins pick ensures that the Ravens will focus even more on the rushing game in 2020, continuing their trend from 2019. Baltimore led the NFL in rush attempts per game, average yards per carry, and total rushing yards per game. Not surprisingly, the Ravens ranked last in the NFL in pass attempts per game and ranked 27th in passing yards per contest.
While it may take into midseason to reach this point, look for Dobbins' youth, bruising rushing style, and emerging presence in the passing game to allow him to compete with Ingram and Edwards on the depth chart. For redraft leagues in 2020, Dobbins will be an interesting mid-round selection, but in dynasty drafts, Dobbins is super appealing considering the run-heavy scheme he will play in.