2012 NFL Draft: 5 Running Backs the Baltimore Ravens Should Target

Kyle CaseyCorrespondent IIIMarch 17, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: 5 Running Backs the Baltimore Ravens Should Target

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    As NFL free agency continues on, the Baltimore Ravens still have not made any moves. In fact, the team has only worsened since Tuesday, losing four key defensive players, as well as starting left guard Ben Grubbs.

    The Ravens appear to be taking the "Ozzie Way" like usual, as general manager Ozzie Newsome is not known for going after big-name free agents.

    But as free agency progresses, one position the team needs to address is running back. With the retirement of Ricky Williams, Anthony Allen is currently serving as the backup to Ray Rice. To repeat as AFC North champions, the team needs to find a more skilled back than Allen.

    If that back doesn't come via free agency, the team will certainly address the situation in the draft.

    Here are five running backs who could be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2012 NFL draft.

    Note: Let me start off by saying none of the running backs on the list are going to be first- or second-round prospects. The need for a running back isn't that urgent, so the team will address the situation later in the draft.

5. Brandon Bolden, RB, Ole Miss

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    Brandon Bolden fits the mold of exactly what the Ravens are looking for: a strong back who can run between the tackles.

    At 5'11", 222 pounds, Bolden has the frame to be a true power back. He is not fast enough to be an every-down back, so he would likely need to add 10-15 pounds and focus on running solely between the tackles.

    The team could target Bolden in either the fifth or sixth round.

4. Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple

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    It's quite surprising that former Temple running back Bernard Pierce has not received much attention during this draft process.

    Sure, Pierce played for Temple, which isn't exactly a big-time football school. But that shouldn't matter. Pierce set the school record for rushing touchdowns, scoring 53 times in just three seasons.

    With solid speed (4.49 40-yard dash) and a bit larger frame (6'0", 218), Pierce is more fit to be a starting running back. But for the time being, he could serve as a backup to Rice.

    The team could target Pierce in either the fourth or fifth round.

3. Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M

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    If the Ravens are looking to find a do-it-all back to complement Rice, Cyrus Gray is the answer.

    Gray posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Texas A&M and has been gaining some recognition since the combine.

    The former Aggies player is the ideal third-down back for the Ravens, as he can run inside or outside the tackles and is a solid receiver out of the backfield, despite dropping two passes at the combine.

    With the momentum that Gray has been gaining, he could go as high as the third round. But if things work out, the Ravens, who don't have a fourth-round pick, could trade into the fourth round to snag Gray.

2. Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State

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    If the Ravens are looking for a good value pick at running back, the team should target Vick Ballard in the fourth or fifth round.

    Ballard is one of the more underrated running backs in the draft and has a great balance of speed and power. While he is one of the more compactly built running backs in this year's draft class, he can still bounce to the outside.

    The way Ballard is built right now, he wouldn't have to change a thing to contribute to the Ravens offense. Ballard's frame is ideal for a complement to a speed back in Rice, and he would fit perfectly in Baltimore's offense.

1. Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State

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    Robert Turbin is the kind of running back the Ravens need. The team needs a power back, but it wouldn't help having someone who could cut to the outside on any given play.

    At 5'10", 222 pounds, Turbin is one of the most compact backs in the draft. But don't let that frame fool you.

    Turbin is deceptively fast, as he ran a 4.50 40-yard dash in February's NFL combine. He is the highest-rated running back on this list, so the Ravens would likely have to draft Turbin in the third round.