The Case for “CEH” to the Ravens…
Well folks.. it’s been awhile. Sure, you’ve seen my player profiles on Ravens Draft Central. You’ve seen my tweets @LateRoundCorner. But it’s been a decent amount of time since I’ve written a good old-fashioned opinion article, and as you can guess from the title, this one is going to incite the ire of some folks.
You’ve all seen it. Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, or J.K. Dobbins to the Ravens in the first round. I think we can all agree that a first-round running back isn’t in the cards for EDC and Baltimore.
You’ve also seen Jalen Reagor mocked to the Ravens at 55, or K.J. Hamler at 60. Two speedsters with their own set of red flags that would complete an absolute track meet offense for Baltimore.
Let’s get weird, folks.
What if I told you that there was a running back that could be taken at #55 overall who would complement the running back room and make the offense even deadlier than it already is? What if I told you that that running back was a combination of Ray Rice and Mark Ingram, with more explosiveness and slightly more power?
Flockers, allow me to introduce the uninitiated to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, of LSU fame. He racked up 1,415 yards on 215 carries as a junior, averaging 6.6 YPC and notching 16 scores along the way.
Do I have your attention yet? Good.
I can already hear/see the critics: ‘Running back isn’t a need! You’re an idiot! Who actually pays you to write this garbage?!’
His name is Tony Lombardi, and I promise you if you complain to him, he’ll probably laugh at you.
Moving on. Yes, the Ravens just broke the NFL all-time rushing record. As such, you may be thinking that they don’t need to add another rusher to the squad. Let’s examine that thought.
Ingram is currently 30 years old, which is usually the beginning of the downhill side of a running back’s career. Am I assuming he’s going to regress due to ageism? No. I’m simply saying that the Ravens could and should prepare for that day. On top of that, he’s all in on the Ravens drafting a running back – he said that they’d welcome him into the room, help make him better and make the team better. Ingram tutoring CEH, who himself reminds me of Mark Ingram? Yes please.
Gus Edwards has been an absolute stud when called upon, averaging 5+ YPC in both 2018 and 2019, and breaking the 700-yard mark both times. He only has four career touchdowns, which can be construed a few ways. One way is that the Ravens don’t trust him at the goal line. CEH ran in sixteen touchdowns in 2019. That’s twelve more than Gus Edwards did.
Justice Hill had flashes in his rookie season, but let’s be honest. He’s a scatback, similar to how Alex Collins was used, but not as talented as the 2017 version of Collins. You don’t want him to be your three-down back. CEH can do everything that Justice can do, except better.
Think about it: You take CEH at 55, and you immediately upgrade a strength of the team. Is it a gluttony pick? Absolutely. But it also plans for the future while giving you an insurance policy should a certain starting running back get injured right before the playoffs and look banged up in the divisional round. Ahem.
Circling back around to what CEH can bring to the table – let’s talk about receiving. Ingram had 247 yards on 26 receptions in 2019, averaging 9.5 YPR and adding another five scores to the tab. Edwards went for 45 yards on seven receptions, averaging 6.4 YPR. Justice Hill went eight-for-seventy, an 8.8 YPR average for the math geniuses at home.
What does this mean? It means CEH racked up more receiving yards than the entire running back room – 453, to be exact. Combine his receiving ability with his nose for the end zone (17 total touchdowns in 2019), and the NFL-passing-touchdown-leader-turned-MVP should absolutely love him.
But wait! There’s more!
The Ravens need help in the return game. Everybody knows this. Guess what CEH is sneakily good at?
Yeah. Returning. 35-yard average return. Three years of returner experience.
‘The Ravens wants guys who can block!’
You don’t say? Who better to learn from than one of the best pass-blocking running backs in the league? Or how about the single best blocking tight end? CEH has a foundation for pass protection, just needs to polish it up a bit.
‘But he’s so short!’
So was Ray Rice. We all know how that turned out. And like I said earlier – CEH has some very Ray Rice-esque traits. Just keep him away from elevators.
‘But there are better options at 55!’
Okay, first, how do you know? Doth mother knoweth you borrowed her crystal ball? Second, who are you taking at 55 that will strengthen the offense while also adding a returner, as well as a future insurance policy? If you say anybody other than Brandon Aiyuk, you’re wrong, and should feel wrong.
I can think of about 43 followers/readers that are going to disagree with me on this, be it because they have an actual argument, or they just like to disagree with me. To them I say: cut the tape on again. I’ve thought about this for days. Discussed it with myself. Argued with myself. The things you do in quarantine.
But at the end of the day, if EDC took CEH at 55, I’m not going to be mad. I’ll be quite excited, honestly. You’re getting a high-end running back that isn’t getting that much hype because of guys like D’Andre Swift (RB1), Jonathan Taylor (Gus Edwards 2.0) and J.K. Dobbins (scatty scat), but who may have the highest ceiling in the draft class. He’s got a lot of tread left on his tires too, with just 370 career carries and a minimal injury history.
Some of you will ask how the depth chart would shake out, adding another running back. I have some ideas.
If the Ravens drafted CEH (and they should), Edwards is likely the odd man out – too much of a good thing and all. He doesn’t offer anything that you don’t have in Ingram or the newly-acquired CEH. He would also represent the smallest cap hit upon separation.
So the question would be, do you cut him? Or trade him?
Obviously you try to trade him. If you get a 4th (or better) round pick out of a productive UDFA with a lot of tread on his tires and a 5+ YPC average, you’re doing okay. With the propensity for robbing teams that EDC has shown in his first year as general manager, it wouldn’t shock me to see him weasel a late 2nd/early 3rd out of somebody.
I like Gus. I’ve had his back since Day One, and this isn’t me saying he isn’t worth keeping. With the increased roster size, maybe you just keep four running backs. But if you absolutely have to get rid of him, you call everybody.
Don’t overthink it. He’s a first-round talent that’ll likely be available at 55. When something like that happens, you take him and don’t think twice. The Ravens took Ray Rice 55th overall when they had Willis McGahee, who they traded for the previous year. Why not continue that success with CEH at the same draft slot when you have Mark Ingram, who was signed the previous year. See the connection?
Let the fight begin.