Ravens draft preview: Running backs

FootballSportsIsaiah PeadBernard PierceDavid WilsonVonta LeachAnthony Allen

Every weekday through April 25, the day before the first round of the NFL draft, The Sun will examine 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.

Today, we’ll examine the running back position:

Current running backs under contract: Ray Rice, Anthony Allen, Damien Berry, Vonta Leach (fullback)

Chances that the Ravens draft a RB in first three rounds: Moderate. Ricky Williams’ surprising retirement left the Ravens vulnerable at running back. Rice, who is wearing the franchise tag as his agent tries to work out a long-term extension with the team, is a threat to hold out from the various offseason activities, which only increases the importance of adding depth at the position. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has said that Allen, a seventh-round pick last year, will get every opportunity to step up into the role vacated by Williams, but he emphasized that the team still needs to bring in a couple of ball carriers.  The Ravens won’t hesitate to draft a running back, but the reality is that they have bigger needs and it’s much more likely that they take one in the mid-to-later rounds than in the first couple.     

Possibly on Ravens’ radar: Edwin Baker (Michigan State), Davin Meggett (Maryland), Lamar Miller (Miami), Isaiah Pead (Cincinnati), Bernard Pierce (Temple), Chris Polk (Washington), Chris Rainey (Florida), David Wilson (Virginia Tech)

Outlook: It’s certainly not out of the question that a back that the Ravens really like is sitting there in the second or third round and they opt to pull the trigger. Pead, one of the team’s pre-draft visitors to the Owings Mills facility, has game-breaking speed and would add another dimension to the Ravens’ offense and special teams. The Ravens also could use a power back, like the 210-pound Baker, as a change of pace for the elusive Rice. However, the fact that Rice figures so heavily in the game plan and the Ravens have a history of giving their own younger players, like Allen, an opportunity before looking externally would lead one to believe that they won’t place as high of a priority on the running back spot as they will on other positions. Still, they clearly need to add some depth so don’t be shocked if they come out of the draft with at least one new running back. There are also a handful of relatively accomplished free agent running backs still looking for work, so the Ravens could go that route as well.

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