With training camp beginning next week, we’ll take a look at a position group for the 2017 Ravens every day as they aim to return to the postseason for the first time since 2014.
Projected depth chart:
FB – Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ricky Ortiz
RB – Terrance West, Kenneth Dixon*, Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen, Taquan Mizzell
*Suspended for first four games
Why to be impressed: Woodhead is the best pass-catching running back the Ravens have had since Ray Rice and should factor heavily into the passing game, especially after fullback Kyle Juszczyk’s free-agent departure. According to Pro Football Focus, Dixon ranked 11th in yards after contact per carry among 53 backs with at least 80 carries last year and brings the highest upside of any back on the roster.
Why to be concerned: West ran for a respectable 774 yards and averaged 4.0 yards per carry in 2016, but the Ravens lost two starters on the offensive line and will be without Dixon for the first four games of the season. Many of the important duties performed by Juszczyk are projected to be assumed by the combination of Taliaferro and Woodhead, two players who have struggled to stay healthy.
2017 outlook: If the Ravens are to get their running game going to a meaningful degree after their struggles the last two years, the bulk of that credit should go to senior offensive assistant Greg Roman, who has a good reputation and revamped their blocking schemes this offseason. The backfield personnel is adequate, but the lack of additions to the offensive line limits the overall ceiling of the running game.
Prediction: West will lead the team in rushing yards and touchdowns, but Dixon will be the No. 1 back by the end of the season.