Trent Richardson went third overall to the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 NFL Draft, but it looks certain a running back will not go in the top-10 overall this year. It’s possible there will not be a running back selected in the first round at all later this month, which is not a huge surprise given the reduced emphasis on the position around the league. Alabama’s Eddie Lacy, who is widely regarded as the top-ranked running back, has not had a great showing during the pre-draft process and he may fall out of the first round completely.
Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell is ranked among the top running backs right now, and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com has tabbed him as the best in this year’s class. Bell chose to forego his senior season after a stellar 2012 campaign, as he finished fifth in the country in rushing with 1,793 yards along with 12 touchdowns on the ground. He also showed capability as a pass catcher with 32 receptions last season, and had over 30 catches in both his sophomore and junior seasons.
Let’s take a look at Bell’s measurements, strengths and weaknesses.
Weight: 230 lbs.
– Is a well-built athlete; looks the part
– Runs with excellent power; shows good forward lean and breaks tackles
– Is surprisingly light on his feet and agile for a bigger back
– Runs with good patience and vision
– Is an active receiver; has natural hands
– Shows good awareness in pass protection
– Lacks breakaway burst; builds to full speed
– Is too patient and hesitant at times; gets in trouble when he stops his feet
– Runs tall; takes too many direct hits
– Needs to improve his technique in pass protection
– Was contained by better defenses in 2012
Bell is being mentioned as a potential second or third-round pick right now, and teams that could (or should?) be looking closely at him include the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bell is sure to be one the first running backs off the board no matter what, and there’s an outside chance he will be the first back selected if he is drafted early in the second round and Lacy falls below that area.
NFL Comparison: Steven Jackson
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.