The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL last season. They ranked 26th in the league in rush yards per game with about 96, and this offseason lost five-year veteran and former-starter Rashard Mendenhall.
Mendenhall was a solid first-round selection out of Illinois, rushing for over 920 yards in three of the last four seasons, including two years with 1,000-plus yards on the ground. He was forced out due to injury last season and the Steelers decided not to keep him.
Well, the 2013 NFL Draft is here and the Steelers are left with two guys who combined for just over 1,000 yards last season in Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. There is no clear starter, with Redman being the likely leader for the job, but the second-round selection of Le’Veon Bell from Michigan State surprised many people.
Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball were still on the board but it was evident from listening to Mike Tomlin talk about the former-Spartan running back that the Steelers loved Bell. Bell is a bruising back that may be criticized for being slow or running too high, but the 6-foot-2, 244-pound back can run people over and, on occasion, jump over defenders. Yes, I said jump.
While he won’t be able to do that as frequently in the NFL, Bell is the perfect back for the Steelers rough and tough system. He had over 1,700 yards in his final season at Michigan State and was widely regarded as one of the top backs in this class of 2013 — although the class of running backs is very dense.
Great pick by the Steelers, though.