Many fans believed the Steelers had several holes to fill on the roster through this year’s draft, but no position needed more help for Pittsburgh than running back.
The Steelers still have runners Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, two backs who shared the workload in Pittsburgh last year in the absence of Rashard Mendenhall, but the Steelers averaged less than 100 rushing yards per game and a measly 3.7 yards per carry. And in the 4th quarter when it mattered most, the Steelers ranked 25th in rushing.
Pittsburgh has been searching for a power back, a closer, an NFL equivalent to Mariano Rivera, ever since Jerome Bettis retired after the 2006 campaign. Speedster RB Willie Parker started the next two seasons and sparingly one more before giving way to Mendenhall and others.
Speed, quickness, elusiveness is great, but make no mistake about what the Steelers want to do. They want to pound the pigskin, attacking the opponent first with a big, powerful back that can run out the clock in close games. Bell is that guy.
At Michigan State, Bell was a true workhorse carrying the ball 382 times last year, more than anyone else and led the country with 921 yards after contact.
“It was pretty clear that this was the guy that we would be most excited about being available when it came to our pick,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said after the Steelers drafted Bell according to ESPN.
At 6’1”, 230 pounds, Bell can be the bruiser the Steelers want him to be. Rotoworld.com reports he also possesses surprise elusiveness for his size, and great pass catching ability. The Steelers also hope his pass blocking skills improve, so Bell can stay on the field on third down.
Even if that does not happen immediately, all reports indicate Bell will be the leading man out of the backfield for Pittsburgh, and he will try to become the first Steelers rookie to lead the team in rushing since Tim Worley in 1989.