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Ravens draft analysis, position by position: Running back

By Jeff Zrebiec

The Baltimore Sun

7:00 AM EDT, April 29, 2014

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From now until May 8, the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, The Sun will look at where the Ravens stand at each position, the likelihood that they will address that spot early in the draft and some of the prospects that they may consider.

The Ravens have nine total picks in the three-day draft: one in each of the first, second, fifth and sixth rounds, and two each in the third and fourth rounds.

Today we'll examine running back:

Current running backs under contract: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett, Cierre Wood, Kyle Juszczyk

Chances that the Ravens draft a running back in first three rounds: Decent. The Ravens have two third-round picks, which could be an ideal spot for them to add depth to a position that features several question marks. Rice is dealing with legal issues stemming from his February arrest and indictment for aggravated assault, while Pierce is coming back from offseason shoulder surgery. Forsett is good veteran insurance, but not viewed as a long-time answer. The Ravens want to add some youth to the position and they figure to do just that in the middle-to-late rounds.   

Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Dri Archer (Kent State), Carlos Hyde (Ohio State), Bishop Sankey (Washington), Terrance West (Towson), Andre Williams (Boston College)  

Outlook: Regardless of how Rice’s legal issues play out, the Ravens are prepared to be without the three-time Pro Bowl running back for a couple of weeks of the season. It would be surprising if he was not assessed a suspension by the league. Pierce had a disappointing second season, and while he should be healthy enough to be full go by training camp, he’s yet to prove that he can carry the load and he still struggles out of the backfield and in blitz pickup. The Ravens had the worst rushing season in franchise history last year and they really struggled in short-yard situations. A big, physical back, like Hyde or Williams, would be a welcome addition as the Ravens look to return to a punishing, downhill running attack. Last year marked the first time in 50 years that a running back was not selected in the first round and draft pundits feel like that will likely happen again this year. That could allow the Ravens to choose between a host of talented backs in the middle rounds. It would be a nice story for the Ravens to keep West home, but the former Towson star has attracted a ton of interest.