Coming off an 8-8 season with no playoff appearance in 2013 and dealing with the Ray Rice fiasco, the Baltimore Ravens still managed to get back into the AFC postseason in 2014, with Justin Forsett (1,266 rushing yards and eight touchdowns at 5.4 yards per carry) smoothing over the running back position en-route to Baltimore's wild card position, road playoff win over rival Pittsburgh, and near-upset of eventual Super Bowl champion New England in Foxborough.
Forsett is back on a three-year deal, but the Ravens have never been a team to shy away from adding more talent at a position that is seemingly settled. That's why Jason Butt of Baltimore Beatdown has the Ravens taking another running back in the first round of our 2015 NFL mock draft.
26. Ravens: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Butt: The Ravens need running back depth, and taking one in the first round may not seem like the best idea, especially when there are plenty of solid options in the middle rounds. But Gordon has the chance to be a special player in an offense that would suit his skill set incredibly. Gordon is often compared to Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who excels at running and receiving out of the backfield. Gordon would be used in a similar role, given that offensive coordinator Marc Trestman had Matt Forte utilized in a versatile role. Gordon is also one of the two top-end backs (Todd Gurley being the other) without a major injury history. The interest is there, too, as The Baltimore Sun has previously reported Gordon will visit the team before the draft.
The Ravens never lock in on one player entering a draft, though, especially since they always take the best player available on their draft board. Gordon very well could be that guy if he falls to No. 26.
Other positions the Ravens could immediately upgrade at this spot are cornerback and receiver. Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson is an interesting potential pick, as are the number of receivers that could be available. But sometimes when you have the chance to take a player that is NFL-ready and he possesses the potential to be a marquee player for years to come, you go for it. Gordon could work with Justin Forsett in tandem before taking over lead back duties in a couple of years. He has familiarity with running backs coach with Thomas Hammock, who coached at Wisconsin before moving to the Ravens.
Gordon ran for 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2014, averaging a whopping 7.5 yards per carry. There is some concern that he already has plenty of carries under his belt. But based on how he performed this past season, Gordon’s best football is still in front of him.
Dan Kadar, SBNation.com: I like this pick, to a degree. Before the Ravens re-signed Justin Forsett, I would have loved it. With Forsett back on a three-year deal, there might not be a lot of value in a running back in the first round. But if that position is the target, Gordon is the right choice. There are some doubts that Gurley can play at the start of the season, so Gordon might be a more attractive pick for teams. Gordon is a highly talented runner because he has speed and can make people miss. He’s a little behind in the passing game, but that’s more of a function of the Wisconsin offense he plays in.
Dan's Top 5 players remaining
- 13. Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
- 17. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
- 19. Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
- 20. Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
- 26. Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
- 1-26: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
- 2-58: (coming April 17)
SB Nation presents: Ranking the best 5 running backs in the 2015 NFL Draft