Tue, 27 Jul 2021

Mailbag: Will J.K. Dobbins Be a Bell Cow Running Back

Baltimore Ravens
17 Jun 2021, 05:25 GMT+10

by Ryan Mink & Garrett Downing

Mink: I hate to burst your bubble, but don't hold your breath on J.K. Dobbins getting 20-plus carries many times this season, if at all. That's nothing against Dobbins, who I think is fantastic. For the millionth time, I think Dobbins has all the talent to become a star in this league.

The issue here is that the bell cow running back who gets 20-plus carries per game has been slaughtered. Might as well toss on it on the grill. Only two running backs in the NFL - Tennessee's Derrick Henry and Minnesota's Dalvin Cook - averaged more than 20 carries per game last season.

The Ravens run the ball more than anyone in the league, but they also feed a lot of mouths. There's a reason why Baltimore just inked Gus Edwards, who is also excellent, to a two-year extension. Edwards is still going to get a large share of the workload. Though Lamar Jackson may continue to throw more and run less, he's still going to run a lot.

With Mark Ingram II a healthy scratch for much of the second half of last season, we saw how the Ravens were going to divvy up the rushing reps. Dobbins averaged 11.6 rushes over his final 11 games. Maybe he'll get slightly more than that in Year 2. The Ravens are looking to get Dobbins more involved as a receiver to broaden his role, but don't expect him to become the bell-cow running back fantasy football owners yearn for.

Downing: I absolutely love what I've seen from Tee Martin and Keith Williams. It seems like we can't get through a press conference without a receiver talking about how the two new coaches have brought such great insight and energy to practice. Martin has a great understanding of the full scope of offensive football, both from his time as a coach and a championship quarterback. Williams is a route technician, and he's helping the receivers hone in on the finer details of the position. I think they will help polish the technique for this receiving corps, and also help introduce some new concepts to the passing game. Adding Martin and Williams looks like two home-run hires by Harbaugh, and I'm excited to see the strides the receiving group makes this year.

Mink: Now that the Edwards deal is done, Bradley Bozeman and he would also be the first person I would point to. He's in the fourth and final year of his contract and now that he's shifting to center, he's becoming an anchor of the offensive line. After having some turnover at that spot the past couple years, I'm sure the Ravens would love some long-term consistency. Bozeman checks every box. He's a very strong player who works hard, he's a role model off the field, he's beloved by his teammates, and he's been extremely durable. Perhaps the Ravens would like to see how well he fares in his switch back to center (where he played in college) before inking him to an extension, but I wouldn't be surprised if the two sides work out a deal before or during the season.

Another candidate is safety DeShon Elliott. After two years lost to injury, Elliott stayed healthy and thrived as a starter next to Chuck Clark last season. This could be another case where Baltimore's front office would like to see a larger sample size of work, but I think Elliott's play warranted consideration for an extension. Veteran Brandon Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract, is another possibility. At 32 years old, he's still getting the job done at a high level.

Downing: We have two questions here about Bowser, but with two very different ideas. In terms of him playing more inside, I don't see that. The Ravens already have Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison and L.J. Fort as inside linebackers, so they don't have a need there. They also didn't re-sign Bowser with the plan to change his position.

As far as his pass-rushing ability, I do think Bowser could take on more responsibility in that area. The defense has a need at pass rusher after the departures of Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, and Bowser will be one of the key players in that area. Bowser's career high is five sacks, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him top that number this year. The Ravens will count on several players to get after the quarterback - Bowser, Odafe Oweh, Jaylon Ferguson and Calais Campbell - and it will certainly be a group effort this year. Adding Justin Houston is still a possibility after he reportedly visited the Ravens before the draft. The Ravens are tight against the cap so that could come down to money, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility.

Mink: The rookie fifth-round pick hasn't jumped out to me in practice yet, but that's not much of a surprise. First of all, we didn't get to see him in rookie minicamp because he tore the skin off the bottom of his feet. Also, I expect that Mason will shine more once the pads come on and he can do what he does best - rough people up. Now is not the time for rugged blockers to shine. Considering the Ravens have Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard and a deep group of young tight ends, I don't expect Mason to have a big impact as a rookie. But injuries could always change that, so the Michigan man will have to be ready if called upon.

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