Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens profiles a pair of plays from rookie running back J.K. Dobbins, who may be in a supporting role behind Mark Ingram, but this young Raven is almost ready for flight.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire had the best immediate fit among rookie running backs, but J.K. Dobbins has the best long-term fit, and he’s a faster runner with better contact balance. This is apparent when comparing the two backs in college and the early NFL film.
The Ravens have the luxury of Mark Ingram, a veteran starter who still has the ability to carry the load for most NFL teams. This is also helpful to Dobbins’ long-term whereas Edwards-Helaire lacks a veteran of Ingram’s stature and experience to mentor him. It doesn’t mean Edwards-Helaire is at risk of being a bust, but if I’m banking on the player who will have an easier time overcoming obstacles, I’d lean towards Dobbins due to his range of skills and his landing spot.
These two plays of Dobbins’ limited work against the Houston Texans in Week 2 are illustrative of what Dobbins offers that Edwards-Helaire lacks. Both rookies are guilty of “thinking” more than “knowing” their scheme and assignments, which is indicative of rookies (you can learn what I mean by this in this week’s RSP Cast), and you can see this with Dobbins getting moved to the right spot before the snap on the pass play and his stumble through his cut on the long run.
Still, if Ingram gets hurt, Dobbins is ready to take flight and I will expect him to soar with only a slight amount of acclimation needed.
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