At the conclusion of the 2013 NFL Draft, many said that the Pittsburgh Steelers had arguably the best draft out of all the teams in the league. The Steelers addressed every significant need on their roster, and in the process selected a few players who could make an immediate impact on the team in 2013.
Two players in particular that stand out to me are first round pick Jarvis Jones and second rounder Le’Veon Bell. Jones and Bell are two rookies that have a chance at doing something most rookies don’t do in the city of Pittsburgh. They can possibly be in the starting lineup in Week 1 at their respective positions.
Jones, who was the best pass rushing linebacker in the nation last season, will be in competition against Jason Worilds for the outside linebacker position once training camp starts this summer. On the offensive side of the ball, Bell will have the chance to prove he’s better than veteran running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer.
Obviously, a starting position won’t be handed to either rookie. Furthermore, there is even a possibility that neither will be starters at the beginning of the regular season. However, if the production that Jones and Bell had in their collegiate careers instantly translates to the professional level, they should definitely be starters at some point during the 2013 regular season. In addition, being given the opportunity to start could result in both winning the Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year awards.
From my point of view, I see Jones being a difference maker on a Steelers defense that had a decline in sacks over the past two seasons. If there were any other defensive rookies that would give Jones a run for his money, I think it would be Dion Jordan of the Miami Dolphins and Ziggy Ansah of the Detroit Lions.
Just like Jones, Jordan and Ansah are joining defenses that have big names in their defensive front seven, and they could have big rookie seasons because of that.
As for Bell, the combination of his power running and athletic ability already puts him head and shoulders above Redman and Dwyer. The fact that running back is the easiest position to transition into from the college ranks further supports the fact that Bell could get Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Regardless of whether Jones and Bell win the Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year awards, their contributions to the Steelers this upcoming season should definitely help improve the team’s 8-8 record from 2012.
I know it’s too early to make a prediction on who will be the league’s best rookies in 2013, but I have a hunch that Jones and Bell will at least be among the cream of the crop.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google