Yesterday the Ravens re-signed FB Jason McKie. He was signed by the Ravens right before the week 13 home game against Pittsburgh, when Le’Ron McLain sat out with an ankle injury he suffered the prior week against Tampa Bay. McKie was eventually waived in January. He was an undrafted free agent, who’s been in the league since 2002, having spent the bulk of his career (7 years) with the Chicago Bears. He was the starting fullback for the Bears in SuperBowl XLI in 2007, blocking for Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. He is 5’11” and tips the scales at 247 pounds. Not much of a rusher or receiver, he is a classic power blocking fullback.
I was actually excited when we signed McKie the first time around, but was disappointed that he was never used. The AFC North has a history of having teams with a hard-nosed power running game, led by a big, nasty fullback. Even with the Ravens, the first names that come to mind are Sam Gash and Lorenzo Neal. Those guys sure were fun to watch! They could create collisions that were audible well into the upper deck of M&T Bank stadium!
I was hoping that the Ravens would have kept McKie, and ran McLain behind him on short yardage situations. Mc n’ Mc I’m sure, would have moved some piles!!! The Ravens have some interesting decisions to make in this off-season, and addressing the fullback and running back situations are right up there. Willis McGahee is scheduled to make $6 million dollars this year, and plain and simple, that isn’t happening. He either takes a significant pay-cut, or he goes somewhere else. The feeling here is that he feels that he can be a starter in this league, and he will bolt.
Once the season ended, McLain publicly doubted that he would return. He voiced his displeasure at his lack of carries, but in the last couple of days he has said that he’d like to come back. I am sure that he will want the Ravens to make a financial commitment to him, as well as give him assurances that they will feature him more at tailback vs. fullback. Is the signing of McKie the first sign of this commitment? It’s just funny that McLain comes out the day after the signing of McKie, and says that he wants to remain with the team.
I for one would like to see Le’Ron return, as I remember the great season he had two years ago when he split carries with McGahee. He was an absolute battering ram, and he almost ran for 1,000 yards. Who could forget his touchdown run in the fourth quarter (I know, McGahee had one too:) to close down old Texas Stadium? That was an 80 yard thing of beauty! I would love to see him get 12-15 carries a game. I also remember that the Steelers’ linebackers had paid him a ton of respect, saying that he was a bruising runner.
Moving forward, I’d like to see the Ravens take a fullback with a late draft pick, so he can compete with McKie. Owen Marecik out of Stanford is a real tough guy (he also started at LB for Jim Harbaugh), weighing in at 247 with 4.75 speed in the 40. He’ll probably go between the rounds 3-5. My favorite fullback in the draft is Henry Hynoski out of Pitt, weighing in at 260, with 4.85 speed in the 40. This guy is a really nasty blocker, easily the best blocking fullback in the draft. He could go as high as the 4th round or drop to as low as the 6th.
I’d rather have a rookie fullback on the roster, as I don’t get Parmalee and Lawrence at running back. Maybe they are decent special team players, but neither appears to have much of an upside. I’d be more inclined to bring in Da’Rel Scott out of Maryland, as he is projected to be a late pick or not get picked at all. 5’11” 205 with blazing sub 4.4 speed in the 40.
My final thought on fullbacks is this – I remember when the 49ers drafted Tom Rathman out of Nebraska. The guy was an absolute beast! He transformed the Niners from a finesse team to a power team. He got everyone – I mean everyone – lifting weights. He paved the way for Roger Craig, crushed blitzing linebackers and cornerbacks and kept them off of Montana, and caught passes out of the backfield. That’s the ATTITUDE that a bruising fullback brings to a team! If I’m sitting in the Ravens’ draft room and it is round 5 or 6, and Hynoski is on the board, I’m picking him.