Ravens Draft Lorenzo Taliaferro: How the RB Fits in Baltimore

Jason MarcumCorrespondent IIIMay 10, 2014

FAIRHOPE, AL - JANUARY 20:  Lorenzo Taliaferro #21 of the South team catches a pass in front of Jeremiah Attaochu #45 during a Senior Bowl practice session at Fairhope Stadium on January 20, 2014 in Fairhope, Alabama.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With the 138th pick of the 2014 NFL draft, the Baltimore Ravens selected running back Lorenzo Taliaferro out of Coastal Carolina. The Ravens wanted to get a running back in this draft, and they finally got their man late in the fourth round with this pick.

The Fit

The 6'2", 230-pound Taliaferro was named the Big South Offensive Player of the Year after leading the conference with 1,729 rushing yards on 276 carries (6.3 yards per carry) and 27 touchdowns in 15 games.

He added 23 catches for 153 yards and a pair of scores. In his career at Coastal Carolina, Taliaferro set 11 school records and five conference rushing records.

The Expectations

Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said, via Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com:

He’s a very physical runner. He had a great college year in terms of production. He’s a versatile player who can run the ball.

He has very good hands out of the backfield. He’s really an outstanding pass protector. In terms of style, he is probably more of a downhill style like Bernard (Pierce), more of a one-cut runner. Ray is going to be a little bit more elusive. In terms of his hands, he can get out there and catch with those guys.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Taliaferro had a good showing with a 4.58-second 40-yard dash, 18 bench press reps of 225 pounds and he had the fifth-highest three-cone drill tie among running backs with a time of 6.88 seconds, via NFL.com.

Normally, Taliaferro wouldn't be expected to get a lot of playing time as a rookie with the Ravens, but he could this year given the uncertainty at that position. 

Starting running back Ray Rice is coming off a career-worst 660-yard season, his lowest mark since becoming the full-time starter in 2009. 

Rice is also facing a potential suspension from the NFL because of his aggravated assault charge at an Atlantic City casino this offseason. 

Backup running back Bernard Pierce is also coming off a subpar season, and after offseason surgery on his shoulder labrum, he might not be ready for the start of training camp.

These two situations could mean Taliaferro gets some looks in training camp to showcase his skills. This could translate into more playing time in the preseason, and that would ultimately help him secure a roster spot and perhaps get playing time in the games that Rice is potentially suspended for. 

Grade: B+

For the majority of his rookie season, Taliaferro will mostly be relegated to third- or even the fourth-string running back role, depending on how well the newly signed Justin Forsett performs in training camp.

Forsett and Taliaferro will battle for the third running back spot, and most teams don't usually keep more than three running backs active on game day.

That means if Taliaferro is able to outperform Forsett in camp, he could find himself active for a lot of games as a rookie.  If he doesn't, though, he could be a game-day inactive for most, if not all of his rookie season.