With the Baltimore Ravens unexpected release of 30-year-old Justin Forsett Saturday afternoon, one of the murkiest backfields in the NFL has become a little clearer. Forsett was the Ravens leading rusher for the past two seasons, making the Pro-Bowl for the first time in 2014. But with the news of Forsett being cut, the Ravens now turn to their home-grown third year back from Towson University, Terrance West.
He was originally a third-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2014, but was later released and has bounced around the league before joining the Ravens in 2015. Once thought of as a bust, West has had a bit of a rebirth this off-season in Baltimore. West started the pre-season buried on the depth chart, but he out-played Forsett, Buck Allen and rookie Kenneth Dixon, pretty easily might I add.
But anyone who has been following this running back situation this off-season shouldn’t be shocked that West is the starter.
Earlier in the off-season, Coach John Harbaugh commented on West, saying that “Terrance has done a great job. I’ll tell you, I would say he’s in the best shape of his life. I think he’d tell you that. … I think he’s really done a good job with improving on this spring, and I can’t wait to see him in training camp.” according to the team’s website.
West allegedly lost more than 15 pounds this off-season and it shows. He is much quicker and explosive than he has ever been at any point during his NFL career. A career 3.9 YPC runner, West has the ability to run in Marc Trestman’s offense fairly efficiently. He can be productive in a zone-read offense, especially on earlier downs. And with Dixon being sidelined for the first few weeks of the season, fully expect West to get the red-zone work.
One of the problems that West may face is many unfavorable game scripts. In 2015, the Ravens ran the ball only 383 times, which put them at 26th in the league in rushing attempts. West isn’t a bad receiver, but he’s likely to work as the passing back.
Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman does like to pepper his running backs with targets, but he tends to do so out of the shot-gun. I’m just not sold that West will see that much action in the passing game. The Ravens actually led the league in passing attempts in 2015, throwing the ball 676 times. With not a lot of improvements to their defense and a lot of older players on the team, I don’t see much changing in Baltimore. If they can’t stay in games, West likely won’t stay on the field.
Having said that, West is currently a steal in the 13th round, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com.However, that won’t last long as he shouldn’t be anything more than a low-end RB-2. He is a slightly-above-average talent, but on a team who is likely going to be down in a lot of games, it’s hard to see him climb much higher than that. As of now, he’s worth a mid-round pick, starting in the sixth or seventh round if you choose to apply the zero running back theory to your team. Just don’t expect him to be anything special.