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Mike Davis

Baltimore adds veteran running back

The Ravens had Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and LeVeon Bell cycle through their backfield last year. They’ve agreed on a contract with a similar kind of back: Mike Davis.

I haven’t seen the dollar figures, but I’m sure it’s for close to the league minimum.

Davis comes off a pretty lousy season with the Falcons. He ended up playing second fiddle behind Cordarrelle Patterson. Davis ended up averaging 30 rushing and 15 receiving yards in 17 games, with 4 TDs.

That’s not all on Davis, of course. The Falcons were pretty terrible last year. Not a lot of backs would have had much success in that offense. But he’s a modest talent, as evidenced by a bunch of other teams having Davis and either releasing him or not making much of an effort to keep him around. The 29-year-old has played for the 49ers, Seahawks, Bears and Panthers.

Davis was pretty good in Carolina. With Christian McCaffrey missing most of the 2020 season, Davis in his 12 starts averaged 53 rushing and 22 receiving yards, with 8 TDs – he averaged almost 4 catches per game that year.

But he’s a pretty ordinary runner. He’ll run hard, but there’s just not a lot of speed or talent. He was the only back last year who finished in the bottom 5 at his position in both yards per carry (3.6) and yards per catch (5.9). That’s among the 48 who caught at least 25 passes. If you prefer to instead look at yards per pass play (including incompletions) he’s in the bottom 5 there two.

He was one of two backs last year who ran the ball at least 100 times and didn’t have a 20-yard run.

With Baltimore, I would see him as a possible backup behind Gus Edwards. The Ravens have J.K. Dobbins, and I don’t think they would have any interest in subbing in Davis there. He’s not fast enough. But as a 5-foot-9, 220-pound bowling ball, I would think he might be able to adequately fill in for Edwards, with some change-up carries between the tackles.

Edwards is coming back from a torn ACL. If he has some kind of setback, Davis could be a contender for some playing time there.

But there’s no potential of Davis being some kind of surprise player. Over the last four years, 40 running backs have run the ball at least 400 times. Only five of those backs have averaged fewer yards per carry than Davis, and three of them aren’t currently on NFL rosters.

Peyton Barber, Frank Gore, David Johnson, Carlos Hyde. These are the kind of backs Davis looks comparable to nowadays.

In the chart below, the final column shows not rushing touchdowns but all touchdowns. The players not currently on teams are tagged with black dots.

Nick Chubb9084,8165.3039
Jonathan Taylor5642,9805.2832
Gus Edwards4142,1525.2010
Miles Sanders4802,4395.0812
Aaron Jones7413,7155.0149
Derrick Henry11155,5634.9957
Christian McCaffrey6643,1524.7540
Dalvin Cook9444,4664.7340
Devin Singletary4952,3324.7114
Chris Carson7203,2944.5830
Austin Ekeler5602,5524.5640
James Robinson4041,8374.5518
Melvin Gordon7553,4014.5043
• Phillip Lindsay6222,7994.5020
Marlon Mack4742,1264.4918
Kareem Hunt5002,2304.4633
Saquon Barkley6592,9374.4627
Ronald Jones4882,1744.4519
Alvin Kamara7923,5104.4354
Mark Ingram5722,5164.4026
Ezekiel Elliott10864,7724.3943
Kenyan Drake5922,5614.3330
• Latavius Murray5512,3724.3023
Antonio Gibson4281,8324.2821
Joe Mixon9263,9384.2537
Sony Michel7433,1374.2220
Josh Jacobs7323,0874.2228
Tevin Coleman4161,7534.2116
James Conner7022,9104.1544
• Todd Gurley6742,7864.1344
Leonard Fournette6752,7704.1025
Jamaal Williams5002,0304.0615
• Adrian Peterson6562,6424.0322
• Carlos Hyde5702,2503.9516
Mike Davis4281,6863.9417
David Montgomery7142,8083.9324
Jordan Howard4901,9263.9323
• David Johnson5662,2043.8925
• Frank Gore5091,9743.885
• Peyton Barber5371,8113.3719

—Ian Allan

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