How did Ravens running backs stack up to rest of NFL in 2020?

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The Ravens qualified for the postseason for the third straight year and registered their first playoff victory in six years, but where did their individual players stack up across the NFL in such an unusual 2020 campaign?

Whether it’s discussing the Pro Bowl or handing out postseason honors, media and fans spend much time discussing where players rank at any given position, but very few watch every player on every team closely enough to develop opinions as informed as we’d like to believe.

Truthfully, how many times did you watch the Detroit Lions linebackers this season? What about the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line? And the Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks?

That’s why I respect the efforts of Pro Football Focus while admitting their grades are hardly the gospel of player assessment. The exhaustive effort to evaluate players across the league shouldn’t be dismissed when most of us watch one team or maybe one division closely on any kind of a regular basis.

We’ll look at each positional group on the Baltimore roster in the coming days, but below is a look at where Ravens running backs stacked up across the NFL this past season followed by a positional outlook going into 2021:

Safeties
Tight ends
Defensive linemen

J.K. Dobbins
2020 offensive snap count: 456
PFF ranking: 33rd out of 70 qualified halfbacks
2021 Week 1 age: 22
Skinny: The second-round selection of the former Ohio State star prompted mixed reactions since the Ravens were already coming off a record-setting rushing season in 2019, but Dobbins led all NFL running backs in yards per carry (6.0) and owned the league’s highest yards per carry (5.5) against boxes with at least eight defenders, according to PFF. Improvement as a receiver and a higher volume of carries could have him poised to make the Pro Bowl as early as 2021.

Patrick Ricard
2020 offensive snap count: 402
PFF ranking: 7th out of 12 qualified fullbacks
2021 Week 1 age: 27
Skinny: Exclusively an offensive player for the first time in his career, Ricard made his second straight Pro Bowl and also played quite a bit of inline tight end to fill the void left by the injured Nick Boyle. In addition to his physicality as a blocker, the 6-foot-3, 303-pound fullback is a capable receiver on the rare occasions he’s targeted out of the backfield.

Gus Edwards
2020 offensive snap count: 346
PFF ranking: 5th out of 70 qualified halfbacks
2021 Week 1 age: 26
Skinny: The 238-pound back continued to show consistency with a third straight season of at least 700 rushing yards and a 5.0 yards per carry average. With Edwards being a restricted free agent, general manager Eric DeCosta must decide whether to make a play to extend such a reliable rushing option at an affordable rate beyond the 2021 season.

Justice Hill
2020 offensive snap count: 73
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 23
Skinny: The 2019 fourth-round pick was mostly a special-teams contributor and played more than 10 offensive snaps in a game only once all year. Suffice to say, 2021 could be a pivotal season in determining whether Hill has any kind of a meaningful future as part of Baltimore’s backfield.

Mark Ingram
2020 offensive snap count: 160
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 31
Skinny: Waived just days after the Ravens’ season ended, Ingram didn’t show the same explosiveness he had in his 2019 Pro Bowl campaign and didn’t regain a meaningful role after hurting his ankle in Week 6. After being a healthy scratch in four of the last five games counting the postseason, Ingram will need to be open to a complementary role wherever he lands in free agency.

2021 positional outlook
Last offseason was a good reminder that the Ravens are always looking to improve their backfield, but Edwards having an uncertain future, Hill not taking a clear step forward in his second season, and Ingram being released could prompt DeCosta to seek another running back later in April’s draft to match with Dobbins for future seasons. The special rushing ability of star quarterback Lamar Jackson and Greg Roman’s schemes remain the foundation of a historic ground game that’s gained over 3,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, but Dobbins carries more upside than any running back the Ravens have had since three-time Pro Bowl selection Ray Rice, positioning Baltimore for another special rushing campaign in 2021.