Where the Ravens stand: Ray Rice, the Ravens' all-purpose back, is the only running back guaranteed to return. He continues to establish himself as an all-around threat after back-to-back seasons of 1,700-plus total yards from scrimmage. Willis McGahee, the Ravens' top red-zone running back, is expected to get cut because he is scheduled to make $6 million in 2011. Le'Ron McClain, a two-time Pro Bowl fullback, will likely become an unrestricted free agent. Coaches are high on backup running back Jalen Parmele, who didn't have one carry last season. The Ravens re-signed Jason McKie, a backup fullback.
Chances that the Ravens draft a RB in first three rounds: Moderate. It won't happen in the first round and there's an outside chance that it could occur in the second round. There could be some urgency to find a quality backup starting around the third round because free agency is expected to take place after the draft this year. The Ravens have always been diligent to have a reliable No. 2 back ever since they were caught short-handed in 2001.
Possibly on Ravens radar: RB – Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Shane Vereen (Cal), Roy Helu (Nebraska), John Clay (Wisconsin), Jordan Todman (Connecticut), Delone Carter (Syracuse) and Stevan Ridley (LSU). FB – Owen Marecic (Stanford), Charles Clay (Tulsa), Shaun Chapas (Georgia), Stanley Havili (USC), Anthony Sherman (Connecticut).
Outlook: If the Ravens will part ways with McGahee, they'll need to find a strong insider runner to replace him. This year's draft class doesn't have major headliners outside Alabama's Mark Ingram, so the value of this group of backs is in the middle rounds. Williams, who had a private workout with the Ravens, could be taken as early as the second round. Vereen, a third-round prospect, proved to be a more powerful in between-the-tackles runner than his predecessor Jahvid Best. Helu, who is projected to go in the fourth or fifth round, impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl with his size and speed. John Clay, Carter and Ridley are all over 220 pounds and can take on tacklers. Ridley, a fifth-round prospect who scored 15 touchdowns last season, spoke to the Ravens at the NFL combine.
At fullback, the Ravens might need to find a starter if McClain goes elsewhere in free agency. There's little panic because the Ravens have landed Pro Bowl fullbacks in the 2003 draft (Ovie Mughelli) and 2007 one (McClain). The Ravens spoke with Charles Clay, a versatile four-year starter who can play H-back, at the Senior Bowl. Marecic, who could go as early as the third round, is the most intriguing fullback prospect because he's a triple threat: a blocker, ball carrier and receiver. He also made news by playing linebacker, too.
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