Drafting RBs to Fit Trestman’s Scheme

NFL Draft Drafting RBs to Fit Trestman’s Scheme

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As with Torrey Smith, if Justin Forsett hits free agency, he’s likely gone to the highest bidder. That will almost certainly not be the Ravens. They’ll have to look elsewhere this offseason to add depth to the running back position and I think they’ll look to the draft.

When considering who to draft, the questions will be: who would fit best in Marc Trestman’s Zone blocking scheme? And how does he utilize his running backs?

For those answers, you have to first look at his track record.

Below are the stats for the top running back (or two) in Trestman’s system when he was either an offensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL.

Screenshot 2015-02-27 08.06.35

Source: Pro Football Reference

There is one thing that stands out to me while looking at these numbers. Trestman likes to get the ball in his running back’s hands as much as possible, especially through the air. In Chicago, he had a top running back in Matt Forte and he utilized him to the tune of over 1800 total yards and over 350 touches the past two seasons.

Through the air, his lowest season total for targeting his top running back(s) was 88 in 2003. In 2014, that would have ranked 3rd in the NFL behind just Matt Forte and Le’Veon Bell.

So who would the Ravens be looking for in the draft given how Trestman likes to use his backs?
I’m going to ignore the big two running backs (Gordon and Gurley) since I can’t envision the Ravens picking a running back in round one, and focus on a few that could be around in rounds 2-4.

Screenshot 2015-02-27 08.07.10

Source: Sports Reference

There are two things I like in the above clip. First, he catches the ball with his hands. This is essential to being a successful receiver out of the backfield. Second, his acceleration is on full display. He goes from 0-60 and makes cuts on a dime. As an added bonus, he can return kicks if needed. If he’s available for the Ravens in Round 2, I could see him being a good fit.

Screenshot 2015-02-27 08.07.45

Source: Sports Reference

Just like Abdullah, Johnson looks smooth coming out of the backfield. He catches the ball and immediately turns upfield with speed. He also appears to be a hard-nosed runner who runs with confidence. As a bonus here also, he can return kicks. See more on Johnson HERE.

Screenshot 2015-02-27 08.08.29

Source: Sports Reference

Of the five guys I list here, I think Yeldon is the least likely to get drafted by the Ravens, but he does have some qualities that would work well in the Zone blocking scheme. He seems to be very patient as seen in the above clip. He lets the play develop and then hits the hole hard. However, he runs too high and I could see that being an issue as he transitions to the NFL.

Screenshot 2015-02-27 08.09.08

Source: Sports Reference

Mike Davis was always one of my favorite players to watch in the SEC. He seemed to always run hard and possesses great hands. Those two qualities would make him a great fit for the Ravens, but no earlier than the second day of the draft. He’s a shifty runner and packs a lot of punch for someone his size.

Screenshot 2015-02-27 08.09.37

Source: Sports Reference

I’m impressed with his ability to put his foot in the ground, cut, and get up field. He also had the fastest 40 time of the bunch at the combine, but he doesn’t look as smooth as Abdullah or Johnson on tape. I would not be upset with a pick like this late in day 2 or on day 3 of the draft because he could be one of the better fits for Trestman’s Zone blocking scheme.

There’s no telling whether or not the Ravens have any of these guys on their board and if they do, what grade they have given them. If I had to grade them, it would look like this:

1. Duke Johnson – Early 2nd Round
2. Ameer Abdullah – Early to mid 2nd Round
3. Javorius Allen – Late 2nd to early 3rd Round
4. Mike Davis – Late 3rd to early 4th Round
5. T.J. Yeldon – Late 3rd to early 4th Round

All of these guys bring something a little different to the table, but all could fit into Trestman’s offense.

If the Ravens choose a running back in this year’s draft, whomever it may be, I have confidence that Trestman will be able to exploit that player’s strengths as he’s proven in the past.

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Drew Kordula

About Drew Kordula

I was born and raised in Baltimore. I'm a graduate of Eastern Tech and UMBC. Baltimore/Maryland sports have always been a huge part of my life. Whether it be going to University of Maryland Football games with my dad as a kid, or climbing to the top of Mt. M&T Bank Stadium for my seats in section 540 today. I'm a Joe Flacco apologist, Buck Showalter groupie, and Wild Bill Hagy disciple. I love writing about Baltimore sports because I know how passionate of a fan base we have here. Everyone has an opinion and I invite you to share yours on any of my blogs no matter if you agree or disagree. Feel free to follow me on twitter @DrewKordula More from Drew Kordula


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