I hate to question what Pittsburgh’s brass are thinking in their “war room,” but I for one am befuddled as to why they selected Le’Veon Bell (6’1″ 230 lbs.) with the 48th overall pick this evening.
Look, I understand that the Steelers were in desperate need of depth at the running back position. But Pittsburgh’s offense already has two “fat backs” on their depth chart in the forms of Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. Furthermore, what would compel the franchise to pass on players at positions of need like Keenan Allen and Arthur Brown, let alone more explosive running backs like Johnathan Franklin and Eddie Lacy?
Do not get me wrong, if those players were all off the board at #48, I would have had less of an issue with Bell’s selection. Yet I truly question why the Steelers would not try to add a more explosive “every-down” back to their roster at that juncture as opposed to a back like with Le’Veon’s skill-set.
As much of a “Negative Nancy” as I am about the pick, Bell was a very productive back at Michigan State during his three-year career. After two successful seasons in a part time role (2010-2011: 1,553 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns), Bell was essentially the Spartans’ only “offensive weapon” last year. Overall, Le’Veon rumbled for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns, and did so against 8, 9, and sometimes 10 man fronts stacked to stop him. To Bell’s credit as well, he has decent field-vision, and possesses the type of feet to work well within a zone-blocking scheme.
Sometimes though, Le’Veon will get too “cutesy” near the line of scrimmage instead of taking the necessary yards in a manner similar to Rashard Mendenhall. In spite of his size, Bell’s somewhat upright running style could leave him at the mercy of linebackers and safeties looking to drop him. Furthermore, I question whether or not the former Spartan is agile and fast enough to cut up field outside the tackle-box, and has enough explosiveness to elude and outrun oncoming defenders. And while I’ll admit that Bell definitely possesses a reliable set of hands (2011-2012: 67 catches, 434 yards, 1 touchdown), his lack of speed could really limit him to only the screen and swing games at the pro level.
The Steelers took a keen interest in Bell before the draft, and Tomlin along with other members of the franchise dined with him before his Pro Day workout. I guess that Le’Veon was the highest rated running back and player on the board for Pittsburgh’s brass at #48 overall, so I guess that I will have to take the usual “In Colbert & Co. I Trust” attitude towards this somewhat confusing pick.
Final Grade: D
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