The Baltimore Ravens have been linked with running back Mark Ingram. Ingram, a former Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Alabama, is a two-time Pro Bowler and a career New Orleans Saint.
Ingram is coming off of a 2018 season which saw him log 645 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in 12 games as he split time with Alvin Kamara. In his career, Ingram has registered 55 touchdowns, 50 rushing touchdowns, and more than 6,000 rushing yards. In eight seasons in the NFL, Ingram has recorded a pair of 1,000 yard rushing seasons and a 12-touchdown campaign in 2017.
While Ingram will turn 30 next season, many experts predict that he will be productive even into his early 30s because of his effective play and ability to catch balls in the backfield. Since 2014, Ingram has recorded 204 catches, an average of 47 per 16 games played. The Ravens have needed a do-it-all back since the days of Ray Rice.
Over the course of the last five seasons, Ingram has registered 6,000 yards from scrimmage, averaging out to 1,200 per season. If one were to factor in Ingram’s missed games over that time, his per 16 game average approaches 1,400 yards per season. If the Ravens were to get a full 16 games from Ingram, he could approach 1,200 to 1,300 yards from scrimmage and 8-10 touchdowns.
The risk associated with Ingram comes from his age and relatively large workload in his days in New Orleans. Ingram ran 1,321 times and caught 228 passes for a grand total of 1,549 total touches over his eight-year career. At a rate of almost 15 touches per game, Ingram could be worn out by the time he gets to Baltimore.
However, those inside the Ravens organization would hope that the presence of Gus Edwards or Kenneth Dixon could supplement any decline in Ingram‘s form. Ingram has recorded six consecutive seasons with over four yards per touch including four consecutive with over 4.5 yards per carry. While touchdowns may not be the most effective measurement for running backs, Ingram has racked up a minimum of six touchdowns in each of his last five seasons.
Let’s take a look at the running back stable the Ravens employ now.
As of publication, the Ravens look to make Gus Edwards their No. 1 back heading into 2019. Edwards, an undrafted free agent, posted a line of 718 yards rushing and two touchdowns in six starts. Over the course of an entire season, Edwards would almost certainly have reached the 1,000-yard plateau. If one were to average Edwards’s production since the start of the Lamar Jackson era in Baltimore, Edwards would have neared 1,500 yards. Last season, Edwards racked up over 100 yards three times including a season-high of 118 yards against Oakland. Edwards contributes very little in the passing game, as he only received two targets in his 11 games and only one target after Jackson came in for the Ravens.
Dixon, a former fourth-round pick by the Ravens, appears to be the change-of-pace or number two back in Baltimore. In six games in 2018, Dixon recorded 333 yards and a pair of touchdowns. If one were to average his games played over the entire season, Dixon would have approached 900 yards and would’ve approached the 1,000 yards mark from scrimmage. Dixon was productive, averaging 5.55 yards per attempt in his appearances.
In a contrast from Edwards, Dixon has shown glimmers of being a reliable third-down back, with his receiving stats ebbing and flowing. In his first season as a Raven, Dixon had a stretch of three games in which he registered 16 total catches and roughly 100 receiving yards. Despite the success in 2016, Dixon was only targeted a total of 19 times in his six games in 2018. However, in the playoff game against the Chargers, Lamar Jackson targeted Dixon three times, completing all three passes for a total of 53 yards.
While Lamar Jackson will most certainly develop as a passer heading into 2019, one cannot overlook the nearly 700 yards and five rushing touchdowns he recorded in 2018. Jackson led the Ravens in rushing attempts despite only starting seven games. Jackson, the Ravens’ first-round pick in 2018, was effective in running the football especially after he took over a starter in Week 11. In his seven starts, Jackson averaged just shy of 80 yards per game rushing. Over the course of a full season, Jackson would’ve registered 1,271 yards. Jackson’s main problem stems from his fumbling issues.
Jackson racked up 10 fumbles in his seven starts and then added three fumbles in the playoff game including one on the final offensive possession, which ended the Ravens’ hope of a comeback. Jackson’s worst rushing performance came against the Chargers in the first game as he only tallied 39 total yards.
Moving forward, the Ravens might look to limit Jackson’s carries to closer to 10 a game as opposed to the 17 that he had as a rookie. While 17 attempts per game partially result from the 26 carries he had against Cincinnati in his first start, the Ravens will probably curb Jackson’s rushing attempts in an effort to keep Jackson healthy and to keep the defense honest.
The Ravens leading rusher in 2017, Collins had his struggles throughout the 2018 season. Collins failed to reach 70 yards in any of his 10 appearances, posting a measly 411 yards on 114 attempts during the season. His average of 3.61 yards per attempt was very weak compared to the likes of Dixon, Jackson, and Edwards.
However, Collins registered seven touchdowns in 2018, beating out his career high of six originally posted in 2017. The Ravens may not retain Collins moving forward, but if they were to, he could be an effective goal-line back. Of Collins’s 15 career touchdowns, 11 of them came within 10 yards of the end zone, and five came inside the three-yard line. Collins is the least likely of the 2018 backs to factor into the 2019 season for the Ravens.
As a whole, Ingram could be beneficial in the Baltimore system. With the relatively low pedigree of the likes of Collins, Dixon, and Edwards, it would be a change of pace for the Ravens to acquire a former first-round pick and former Heisman Trophy winner in Ingram. While Ingram may not be as able or effective as he once was, Ingram could still be employed as the number one back in one of the most run-centric offenses in the NFL in 2019.
While the duo of Dixon and Edwards was highly productive down the final stretch of the 2018 season, many analysts do not believe in the sustainability of the ridiculous rushing offense which the Ravens presented under Lamar Jackson. The Ravens do not have an outright need for a running back, but a supplementary cook in the kitchen may not be the worst thing for Baltimore moving forward.
The Ravens could also address running back in the draft. Many mock drafts have seen Josh Jacobs of Alabama going to the Ravens with the 22nd pick. In either outcome, the Ravens could profit from having another back to partition touches and to reduce wear and tear on the likes of Edwards and Dixon.