14. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers – 23 years old
Ten years ago, anyone who claimed the running back position in football would be as desensitized as it is now would have garnered all of the weird looks.
The NFL was already a passing league then, but running backs have become a-dime-a-dozen position.
Le’Veon Bell is arguably the best running back in the league, and he was the No. 48 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Giovani Bernard was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals 11 picks sooner, and the Pittsburgh Steelers sure are glad the former Michigan State Spartan fell to them.
In his rookie year, Bell rushed for 860 yards in 13 games with eight touchdowns — not bad. In year two the touchdowns remained the same, but Bell increased his rushing yards by 58 percent. In 2014, Bell rushed for 1,361 yards on 290 carries.
What most did not expect was his quick evolution into an all-around running back. He went from 399 receiving yards as a rookie to 854 receiving yards in 2014. He caught three passes for touchdowns, too.
With Ben Roethlisberger out with a sprained MCL, Bell is taking on a bigger workload and hasn’t disappointed. After missing the first two weeks of the 2015 season due to suspension, Bell has rushed for 302 yards in his first three games.
As Roethlisberger ages, Bell will have to evolve into the bread and butter of the Steelers’ offense. But with Bell being 6-foot-2, 230 lbs, he should be able to help keep Roethlisberger’s jersey clean — whenever he’s not running a route himself.
Next: No. 13 Sidney Crosby