The Ravens selected Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins with the No. 55 overall pick in the second round Friday night, adding one of the NFL draft’s most talented running backs to the league’s best rushing attack.
Dobbins was one of three Football Bowl Subdivision players last season to run for over 2,000 yards. He added another 247 yards as a receiver, and he proved to be a reliable blocker for the Buckeyes. Dobbins, 21, projects to be as well rounded as starter Mark Ingram II, who’s coming off a Pro Bowl season, but he’s almost a decade younger.
“I was definitely surprised when I got the call,” he told Baltimore reporters during a conference call Friday night. “I’ve been waiting for a while. It was a longer wait than I expected, but I’m glad the Ravens are giving me a chance. It’s a blessing to be on this team.”
Dobbins, the first running back the Ravens have drafted in the first two rounds since Ray Rice in 2008, will enter a crowded backfield in Baltimore. Ingram said last week that he has at least a few more good seasons in him, and Gus Edwards (711 rushing yards, 5.3 yards per carry) and Justice Hill (225 yards, 3.9 yards per carry) are entering their third and second year in the NFL, respectively.
With dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson orchestrating the offense, the Ravens set an NFL single-season rushing record in 2019 (3,296 yards). They finished with 596 rushing attempts last year, almost 100 more than the runner-up San Francisco 49ers.
Dobbins seemed to be a best-player-available selection for the Ravens, despite more pressing needs elsewhere; general manager Eric DeCosta said he was surprised Dobbins wasn’t a first-round pick. When he was still available at No. 55, “we just had to take him,” DeCosta said. "He’s just a talented guy, and it just made too much sense for us not to take him.”
“I think with our offense, we want to add as many talented guys as we can at skill positions,” DeCosta said. "You guys have watched us over the last couple years and specifically last year, and we’re a team that likes to run the football. So having running backs is really, really important. This was a guy that was, in my opinion, one of the very best in college football this year. ... He fits us, and I think he’s going to be a guy that is going to be a dangerous player for us and give us the depth to do what we like to do.”
Despite the Ravens’ reliance on their ground game, analytics have shown that offensive line play is more important than running back talent. And the team, through free agency and the first three rounds of the draft, has yet to add another experienced interior lineman who could challenge for Marshal Yanda’s vacated right guard spot.
The Ravens had acquired the No. 55 pick after trading tight end Hayden Hurst and a fourth-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons last month, also picking up a fifth-round selection in the deal. They later traded away their No. 60 pick — their second second-round selection — and No. 129 selection for two third-round picks (Nos. 71 and 98) from the New England Patriots.
An early run on wide receivers in the second round likely the Ravens from addressing their needs there. Eleven of the draft’s first 49 picks overall were wide receivers, and Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr., Penn State’s KJ Hamler and Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool were among the 13 players taken before No. 55.