Ravens add Marshall running back Rasheen Ali in fifth round of NFL draft

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens added a running back and a potential special teams player by selecting Marshall’s Rasheen Ali in the fifth round of the 2024 NFL draft.

Ali had 1,135 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on 212 carries over 12 games last season. He also caught 28 passes for 213 yards with another score. As a freshman in 2021, Ali had 250 carries for 1,401 yards with 23 touchdowns — the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“He is an explosive guy. I think he runs hard. He finishes his runs,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “He catches the ball well; he can run routes.”

Ali, 5 feet 11, 206 pounds, took a leave of absence during his sophomore year to deal with mental and physical health issues. He also pulled out of this year’s Senior Bowl practices because of a biceps injury.

Fumbling has been an issue for Ali, who had 11 fumbles over the last three seasons at Marshall. He also needs to improve his blocking skills to earn playing time with the Ravens.

“Certainly ball security is one of those things, but this is an explosive guy, very shifty, good vision, [and] he runs hard – all those different things,” DeCosta said.

The Ravens added four-time Pro Bowler Derrick Henry in free agency, which could change the complexion of the offense because of his dominant running style. The Ravens also have Justice Hill and Keaton Mitchell, who is recovering from knee surgery, on the depth chart.

DeCosta indicated the Ravens were going to select a running back with one of their nine picks in this year’s draft. While there are no top-tier, first-round running backs, DeCosta was confident the team was going to find value later in the draft which led to them selecting Ali.

“Ali’s tape is a fun watch,” wrote NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein in his scouting report. “He’s a loose-limbed runner with a blend of instincts and agility that create an admirable rate of consistency relative to the inconsistency of the blocking in front of him. He does a nice job of reading his blocks and shifting speeds to get where he needs to go, but his wiggle and run strength are just average by NFL standards.

“Ali doesn’t appear to have enough acceleration or speed to rush away from speedy defenders, but he is a natural one-cutback. His touchdown production and third-down ability could improve his chances of finding work as an RB3.”

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