Dan Hope of Bleacher Report recently wrote an article about buying or selling young NFL players to determine whether or not they are on the verge of becoming breakout stars. One Pittsburgh Steelers player found himself on the list. Second year running back Le’Veon Bell was given the verdict of “sell” by Hope, basically due to Bell’s average of 3.5 yards per carry. That is an understandable verdict I suppose. Hope gave the reasoning that other running backs with over 600+ yards in their first year but averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry all had sophomore slumps. The players he named were Matt Forte, Knowshon Moreno, Vick Ballard, and Trent Richardson. Pretty good names on that list, maybe Hope is on to something.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at those comparisons though. First off, I’m not sure how Ballard qualifies as an example considering he played in one game last year and had only 13 carries. Frankly the Knowshon Moreno example isn’t too solid either. Moreno ran for 168 yards less in his second year compared to his rookie season but he missed three games due to injury. Moreno also rushed for an average of 4.3 yards per carry in year two compared to 3.8 in year one. Trent Richardson’s first two seasons have been somewhat of a debacle. Even after having an 11 touchdown rookie campaign the Browns were unimpressed with Trent and traded him mid-season in 2013. THE BROWNS felt you weren’t worthy of being on the team. Therefore, I’d rather not compared Richardson to Le’Veon Bell. The Matt Forte comparison is one that is actually valid. Forte had less yards, less touchdowns, and a lower yard per carry average in his sophomore campaign. After his second year though, Forte has never averaged less than 4.4 yards per carry in a season. One last thing about using the under 4.0 yards per carry argument is that while yes it’s true Le’Veon Bell did only average 3.5 per carry, he struggled in his first few NFL games without a solid o-line (some guy name Maurkice Pouncey had just gone down). In four of his final five games of his rookie year as his offensive line got better and better, Bell had a yard per carry average of over four.
One second year running back did earn a “buy” verdict from Hope. Montee Ball of the Denver Broncos earned the vote of confidence despite Le’Veon Bell nearly doubling Ball’s total yards of in their rookie seasons. Montee will now be the guy in Denver thanks to Knowshon Moreno moving on to the Miami Dolphins. Montee is in the better offense with Peyton Manning at the helm but that doesn’t mean he will step right into the starting role and be a star. That remains to be seen. In my mind Montee is far more unproven and less deserving of the “buy” verdict than Le’Veon is.
The last reasoning Hope gave for Le’Veon Bell to having a down year is because of the new competition he faces in the backfield with LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer. Once again Hope uses an interesting argument. Archer isn’t going to steal carries from Bell. He might play on third downs but he might also be used as more of a receiving weapon. Nobody really knows what exactly Archer will do in his rookie year. Blount for sure will take carries from Bell but how many? Last year every Steelers running back not name Le’Veon Bell had 113 total carries. Just 40 less carries than Blount had on the Patriots last year. The presence of Blount and Archer might be a positive for Bell rather than a negative.
I think it’s pretty clear that I’m in favor of Le’Veon Bell becoming an emerging NFL star. This year he hopefully has a better offensive line to run behind and if the Steelers are serious about running the ball, he should have plenty of opportunities to gain over 1,000 yards.
What do you think Steelers Nation? Bell is a stud right?