Monday, April 29, 2013

Will Le'Veon Be The Bell Cow For Steelers?

With the 48th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select...well, let's allow Merril Hoge to announce it:

Le'Veon Bell, the 6'1", 230-pound running back, is likely to be the bell cow for the Steelers to start the 2013 season (and f he isn't, it'll be another wasted second-round draft pick). As Mike Griffith of the Lansing State Journal wrote, at 6'1" and 230 lbs., Bell isn't actually a 'power back,' but "has great vision [and] lateral cutting ability." A style that works well with a zone-blocking system.

That vision and cutting ability were points, as seen and heard in the video link posted above, that were addressed by Mike Mayock as the pick was made.

"My concern with him was I thought he ran more east and west than a 244-pound back should,'' analyst Mike Mayock said referring to Bell's being heavier in college, but losing weight by his Pro Day to be faster. "However, that's easily correctable. He's got really good feet for a big back, and he fits exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers are. So, once he gets those shoulders turned and comes downhill, he's a bear, and it's a great fit."

According to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, the Steelers agree.

"Le'Veon is a guy for all situations,'' said Tomlin. "He ran for 1,700 yards, but he has really soft hands and the way they utilized him in the passing game was really impressive. He's got both youth and experience, but he's still only 21-years old....We're really excited about acquiring Le'Veon."

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said some telling things about why Bell was chosen over Eddie Lacy, the running back most expected to come off of the board first. Aside from pointing out that they think Bell is "a big back, number one, a three-down back - which is a big thing for us," Haley also talked about his pass-catching ability and maturity. -

Haley said that 'he's a young kid who doesn't have a lot of tread on his tires'. Not true. With the fact being that he had 749 touches, 671 rushes, in three years at Michigan State, the opposite is true. But, as Tomlin stated, he had over 1,700 rushing yards (1,793 to be exact) and averaged 4.7 yards per carry, including 5.0 YPC for his career.

He's simply a football player. A physical, yet elusive presence who should fit in well with the Steelers. Not that Lacy isn't a baller, but he ran behind an offensive line that was essentially NFL-lite, routinely opening gaping holes for him. Bell? Well, let's just say that Michigan State's OLine was more akin to the Steelers' of late.

One reason the Steelers passed on Eddie Lacy, per Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette, is a toe injury. He said that "one team source said the Steelers would not touch Lacy because his big toe had been fused." But, as Bouchette further said, there was another reason for the Steelers, as well as other 30 other teams, to bypass him.

"There has been concern about injuries to Lacy’s hamstring and what has been reported as turf toe, but nothing’s been reported about a fusion. Either way, teams did stay away from Lacy – considered by many the best talent at halfback in the draft -- until Green Bay made him the fourth back drafted with the 29th pick in the second round."

Speaking of the OLine also, however, according to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in an interview he did on 93.7 The Fan the week before the NFL Draft, the Big Uglies should be a prettier sight next season.

After calling them "young, athletic and talented," Big Ben offered that "if they stay healthy, they could be, you know, something that could really carry us through the season."

A 21-year old running back and an OLine that could be the youngest in the NFL getting endorsement from your star quarterback? To paraphrase Bogie, it sounds like the beginning of a beautiful relationship.


TIDBITS: According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, former Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Winston Justice met with the Steelers Tuesday. Justice is a good player who is entering his eighth year in the league, and the Steelers could use additional offensive line depth there.


The Steelers tried to trade running back Jonathan Dwyer over the draft weekend after signing former Arizona Cardinals halfback LaRod Stephens-Howling. LSH (as we will be referring to him) was signed to a one-year qualifying contract for $715,000, with a $65,000 signing bonus.

Per the NFL's new CBA, a "qualifying contract," is one in which a player is paid in cash at the minimum level but their Salary Cap charge is only that of a player with two years of experience (thus LSH's Cap charge only being approximately $625,000). The contract must be "no longer than one season, contain the minimum salary, a guarantee not to exceed the minimum salary of a player with 2 years experience, and additional bonus money not to exceed $65,000, a number that rises by $15,000 every three years with the next raise coming in 2015," in order to qualify.