Le’Veon Bell opted for the draft after leading the NCAA FBS in carries as a junior, a logical move as it makes sense to get paid for putting those miles on his tires. Bell left Michigan State following the second-most productive rushing season in school history, a year in which he led the Big 10 in rushing. He’s a big (6-2, 230 pounds) back who runs aggressively if a bit upright, but he’s capable of breaking tackles and moving piles. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert estimated that more than half of Bell’s 1,793 yards last year came after contact.
While Bell has quick feet and good agility for his size, he’s not particularly explosive or elusive and he lacks the speed to go the distance. Some scouting reports also consider him more of a finesse runner as opposed to a power runner. Bell did survive 749 Big 10 touches over three seasons without missing time, so durability is not an issue. Neither is ball security; Bell fumbled just five times in those 749 touches. Bell has had some success in the passing game, both as a receiver and a blocker, but he’ll need to improve in each area—especially his awareness and understanding of pass protection—to stay on the field all three downs.
When you think “Steelers” and “big back”, it’s easy to think of Jerome Bettis. But scouting comparisons for Bell aren’t quite that glowing, running more along the lines of LeGarrette Blount or present-day (as opposed to “Burner” era) Michael Turner. A big back who runs upright also harkens back to Eddie George, though early in his career George had a top-end speed that Bell lacks.
The Steelers seem ready and willing to give Bell feature-back carries, labeling Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer as complementary backs and spending the second-round selection on Bell. So even though he may need to get his yardage in small chunks rather than large bites, Bell is in line for the opportunity to be a fantasy contributor right away.