A surplus of talent is never a bad thing to have in any arena of life.
The choice came as a surprise, considering the Ravens already have Pro Bowler Mark Ingram, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards in their backfield. The Ravens aren't worried about having too much talent -- coming off a 14-2 season, that's precisely what they want -- and are instead offering what might be an unorthodox, if not unrealistic idea for a solution.
"I would equate it to us last year having the tight ends that we had -- the three tight ends," Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta told the team's official site. "(Offensive coordinator) Greg (Roman) did an amazing job of taking those tight ends and really creating something special that made us very tough for defenses to play. And now we've got the four running backs and they all do different things well. It just makes us, I think, a really, really well-rounded team that's tough to defend."
Mark Andrews was undoubtedly the face of the TE position in Baltimore last year, catching 64 passes for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns in 15 games. In fact, he led all pass catchers in both yards and receiving. Surprisingly, a look down the tight end list reveals that yes, the Ravens really did use all three tight ends.
Baltimore traded away one of those tight ends after the 2019 season.
This is where we enter the bartering phase of the surplus. There's no better way to improve your team than by offering some of your abundance to address a deficiency elsewhere. And this couldn't have worked out better for this example.
Baltimore's trade, which sent Hurst to Atlanta, netted the Ravens an extra second-round pick in the 2020 draft. With that pick, Baltimore selected Dobbins.
Dobbins provides burst, power and a relentless motor that seems to fit perfectly in Roman's offense, which led the NFL in rushing last season by a wide margin. He's also bringing a hefty amount of miles traveled in his prolific career at Ohio State, where he rushed 725 times for 4,540 yards and 38 touchdowns. Dobbins set the freshman rushing record at Ohio State in 2017, struggled to cross 1,000 yards in 2018 and then exploded for 2,049 for the nation's No. 2 team entering the College Football Playoff. Their run ended prematurely, and Dobbins wasn't able to finish his final game in scarlet and gray, suffering an ankle injury that knocked him out of the Buckeyes' Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson.
He's seen a lot. He won't have to run as much in Baltimore -- at least not in 2020.
Of course, this very well could be a move made in preparation for Ingram's departure. The running back's three-year, $15 million deal includes a potential out after 2020, when his dead cap number drops from $3.16 million to $1.3 million and his actual cap hit jumps by $1 million. Dobbins is a similar back who is talented enough to replace Ingram with little difference in production.
"We were ecstatic to get J.K.," DeCosta said. "He was by far -- by far -- the highest-rated guy that we had on the board. We kind of felt like he fell out of the sky right to us, the type of team that we are to get a running back like that."
It might just be best for business at that point -- early 2021 -- to move on from Ingram. But for now, Baltimore will be loaded at running back, and that's before we even include the running capabilities of quarterback Lamar Jackson -- you know, last year's MVP and the man who broke Michael Vick's rushing/passing yard record in 2019.
With each rush, the Ravens will be able to send out a different back. Hill brings a top-end burst of speed that will make onlookers question what they just saw, while Edwards can serve as a taller strider who runs with power.
"These guys can all do different things, they should be fresh for four quarters," DeCosta said. "I think we protect ourselves in case of injuries or things like that. It fortifies us, it makes us stronger, and it gives us a guy with home run potential."
Ingram's injury hurt Baltimore in the postseason, leading to an upset loss at home to the Titans. Hedging against such an outcome is wise. However, it's just not common to see a team enter a Sunday with four running backs active. Perhaps Baltimore moves one of these runners -- we'd bank on it being Edwards -- in order to address a need elsewhere.
Right now, the reigning AFC North champions aren't showing many deficiencies anywhere.