Ravens Could Target Gus Edwards Clone in 2023 NFL Draft

UAB RB DeWayne McBride

Getty The Ravens recently brought in UAB RB DeWayne McBride for a pre-draft visit.

On the list of offseason priorities for the Baltimore Ravens, adding another running back isn’t anywhere near the top but it’s still an under-the-radar need nonetheless. Even though they re-signed Justice Hill to a two-year deal coming off a career year and are bringing back J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards both players are entering the final year of their respective contracts.

With that in mind, the team is doing its due diligence on one of the promising prospects at the position as they recently hosted the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s DeWayne McBride for one of their coveted top 30 pre-draft visits according to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero.

Over his last two seasons in college, he was one of the most consistently productive and powerful rushers in the nation. McBride rushed for a combined 3,084 yards and 32 touchdowns over that span according to Sports Reference. In 2022 alone, he set career highs with 233 attempts for 1,713 rushing yards and 19 scores.

McBride Runs Like a Current Raven

The former Blazer doesn’t have the blazing breakaway speed to rip off long scoring runs like Dobbins when healthy, however, what he does possess is a rugged, physical, and tone-setting running style that resembles Edwards.

Both players run with such excellent balance and especially through contact that defenders seemingly bounce off them when attempting arm or form tackles. They almost always produce positive plays and rarely get stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage and run behind their pads with impressive power and leg drive that often results in them taking would-be-tacklers for a ride.

They’re great short-yardage and goal-line battering rams that can pick up the necessary yardage and then some thanks to their ability to push piles, stick their feet in the ground, and get north without much if any wasted motion.

McBride is more advanced coming into the league than Edwards when he went undrafted out of Rutgers in 2018 when it comes to being able to excel running in both wide or inside zone and power/gap blocking schemes. His vision to find a lane and quick feet that he uses to make swift cuts closely resemble the maturation that Edwards made in his second year and especially in his third season.

One of the greatest traits they share is their consistency when it comes to production. In his final collegiate season, McBride ran for 120 or more yards in 10 of 11 games. Edwards hit the ground running as a rookie once he started getting more involved and in his first three seasons prior to suffering a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2021 season, he recorded three straight years of over 700 rushing yards and at least two touchdowns according to Pro Football Reference.

Biggest Area For Growth 

While Edwards has developed into a capable every-down back, neither he nor McBride offered much as pass catchers coming out of the backfield in college. He only recorded 16 receptions for 156 receiving yards and one touchdown in a five-year collegiate career between his time at Miami and Rutgers from 2013-2017 per Sports Reference.

McBride recorded just a fraction of that during his three years at UAB with just 5 receptions for 29 receiving yards and no touchdowns. In the modern NFL, running backs that not only run the ball well but contribute on passing downs as either a pass protector or pass catcher is much more coveted than throwback bruisers that do not.

While his ability as a pure runner makes him an intriguing prospect, his lack of experience and production in the passing game will likely cause him to not come off the board until the third round and could possibly slip into the top of the fourth.

He also struggled with ball security at times in college which is a fatal flaw that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has been notorious for putting even more talented players at the position in the proverbial doghouse.

Edwards was viewed as a possible cap casualty heading into this offseason but agreed to a restructured contract to lower his 2023 cap hit and remain with the team instead of potentially delving into a deteriorating market for veteran running backs.

Drafting McBride would give the team a younger and cheaper replacement that could develop into the same or perhaps even more of a difference maker if neither Edwards nor Dobbins returns in 2024.