Ravens Urged to Select Best RB ‘Since Adrian Peterson’ in 2023 NFL Draft

Adrian Peterson

Getty The Ravens can draft the best college RB "since Adrian Peterson" in 2023.

Running back is a position where the Baltimore Ravens never seem to stop searching for the right option. Whether it’s using draft picks on runners like J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, or handing contracts to veterans Mike Davis and Kenyon Drake, the Ravens believe more is better in the backfield.

The quantity above quality approach usually yields good results, but one NFL analyst believes the Ravens should take a stud workhorse off the board in the 2023 draft. A recent mock draft sent a “three-phase” running back one college coach compared to Adrian Peterson to Baltimore.

Ravens Get Best ‘Since AP’ in 2023 NFL Mock Draft

Bijan Robinson is a natural fit for the Ravens, according to CBS Sports’ Josh Edwards: “Eleven running backs have taken snaps for Baltimore over the past two seasons. J.K. Dobbins missed the entire 2021 season and has already missed five games as part of the current season. The Ravens lean on the run game, so having a three-phase player like Robinson elevates their potential immensely.”

Texas Longhorns’ star Robinson has earned praise from several observers, including TCU head coach Sonny Dykes. He told the Second Thought Podcast (h/t 247 Sports) Robinson is the best college back since Peterson was thriving at Oklahoma:

That’s lofty praise, but it’s hard to argue Robinson doesn’t fit the mold of an every-down, pro-ready back. The 20-year-old is the complete package of brute-force power and breakaway speed.

Those qualities have helped the 6’0″, 215-pounder amass 1,129 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground in just nine games, per Sports Reference. Robinson has also added 314 yards receiving yards and a pair of touchdown catches to his stat-line. He’s already surpassed the 1,012 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns AP managed during his final season with the Sooners.

Putting Robinson into one of the best-schemed running games in the pros would add the big-play threat the Ravens are missing on the ground. Robinson’s 5.9-yard average per carry reflects his power and acceleration, so does the number of missed tackles he forces and the gains he makes after contact.

Those two things are tallied by PFF College:

Robinson would need to replicate those numbers in the pros to have the same kind of impact Peterson had as a rookie for the Minnesota Vikings back in 2007. Fortunately, the Ravens offer a system that can make almost any running back look good.

Baltimore Dream Landing Spot for Bluechip RB

Ravens’ offensive coordinator Greg Roman wouldn’t run out of ways of scheming big gains for a back with Robinson’s talents. An elite lead back would also take the Ravens to another level offensively, despite the success of their committee approach this season.

Edwards’ reference to Dobbins’ injury history is telling because the Ravens’ second-round pick in 2020 would likely be the lead back if he could stay healthy. Instead, Dobbins has struggled to get back on the field after tearing his ACL, LCL, meniscus and hamstring in 2021.

With Dobbins on the shelf, the Ravens have had to trust others to carry the load. At times, that’s meant turning Edwards loose, like when the latter rushed for 66 yards and two scores during a 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 7.

It was Drake’s turn against the New Orleans Saints in Week 9, and the seven-year veteran responded with 93 yards and two touchdowns on the ground:

Justice Hill and Davis have also shared carries in the Ravens’ committee backfield. Roman knows his system, coupled with the threat of dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson, will create holes for anybody.

At the moment it works to produce solid numbers for a cadre of tough and savvy runners, but the Jackson and Roman combo would make a talent like Robinson utterly dominant at this level.