After reaching a four-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell officially joins a black-and-gold backfield quartet that seems rather rag-tag — Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer averaged 96.1 yards per game on 3.7 per carry last year — but could as a whole get the job done in 2013. Throw in the counterpoint to Bell’s bruiser in speedy LaRod Stephens-Howling, and this group could play bigger than the sum of its parts.
“I don’t think my first day could have went any better,” Bell said after his first pro camp workout, via MLive.com. “I went out here, I didn’t mess up on any assignments or anything and that was a good thing. I’m just out here competing with better competition.”
The Steelers shocked many in taking Bell in round two of the 2013 NFL draft, with other needs present on roster and the running back stable already somewhat full, if completely inspiring confidence. Either way, a running back not name Eddie Lacy or Gio Bernard going in the second round would cause some level of surprise regardless.
According to Pro Football Focus grades among running backs in 2012, Redman lead the group at ranking 18th, Dwyer 58th and Howling all the way down at 99th. None of these backs — except maybe the rookie optimism Bell provides — really excite as featured backs. But with the way this position is hit with injuries over the course of the long slog of the NFL season, having a deep (at least decent) backfield can sometimes be better than having one big name and nothing else.