Let’s be honest, the 2013 NFL Draft class is not stockpiled with elite skill position talent. When looking at candidates for the offensive rookie of the year, I looked at opportunity. Perhaps the rookie with the most opportunity in the league is Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.
The Steelers struggled at the running back position last season. With Rashard Mendenhall dealing with injuries most of the season, the Steelers’ rushing attack was led by Issac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. At the end of the season, it was obvious a change was needed at the position. In steps Bell.
Mendenhall left the Steelers to join the Arizona Cardinals. Dwyer and Redman remain on the roster, but after not performing very well last season, it is hard for me to see them getting another shot unless it is an emergency. With the way the roster is currently constructed, Bell should get every chance possible to hold down the starting gig for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers drafted Bell in the 2nd round (48th overall), making him the second running back drafted. He was a workhorse back for the Michigan State Spartans as during his three years there, he carried the ball 671 times, including a staggering 382 carries in 2012. In his career he rushed for 3,346 yards (5.0 yards per carry average) and 33 touchdowns. Obviously, Michigan State relied on Bell a ton and just continually fed him the ball.
While he certainly will not get that many carries in Pittsburgh, it appears that he will get plenty of work. Unless they make a late offseason free agent signing, I feel strongly that Bell will be the starter with the Steelers. We all know that head coach Mike Tomlin likes to run the ball, and I could see Bell racking up some pretty nice stats because of this. Opportunity plus the lack of other standout rookies makes me think that Le’Veon Bell has the best chance to become the 2013 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.