Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert never likes to refer to drafted players as needs. Instead, he likes to call them wants. On Friday, it is quite obvious that needs is indeed the correct word to use as the Steelers drafted Michigan State running back Le\’Veon Bell in round two of the 2013 NFL draft and Oregon State wide receiver Markus Wheaton in the third round.
Due to the loss of wide receiver Mike Wallace and running back Rashard Mendenhall to free agency this offseason, many figured that those two positions would be addressed by the Steelers in the first few rounds of the draft, and indeed they were.
Bell, who a few of the so-called experts deemed a third or fourth round prospect, is a big back that can do it all on offense. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said during his post selection press conference that Bell is a three down back that can catch the ball out of the backfield and pass protect. At only 21 years of age, Haley said that the 6\’2, 244-pound running back doesn\’t have a lot of mileage on him and that he is mature for his age.
As far as the mileage goes on Bell, who led the Big Ten in rushing last season with 1,793 yards, and ran for 12 touchdowns, he has only carried the football a total of 671 times in 40 games played at Michigan State.
Haley insisted that when the day started that Bell was the Steelers target all along, and he really must of been, as they bypassed Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, who many believed heading into the draft was the top running back in the class, to take Bell instead. Lacy wound up being drafted by the Green Bay Packers 13 picks after the Steelers selected Bell.
Wheaton, who the Steelers chose to take over West Virginia product Stedman Bailey, was described by Haley as a wide receiver with a running back build that includes a wider base. Haley also said that Wheaton, who is 22 years of age, can line up both inside and outside, and although he has speed, possesses a different skill set than Wallace had.
During his senior season, Wheaton caught 91 balls for 1,244 and 11 touchdowns and he also rushed for another 142 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. During his four seasons at Oregon State, Wheaton surprisingly carried the ball a total of 83 times for an average of 7.6 yards.
While Wheaton did return a few punts and kickoffs during his college career, it is not something that he excelled at. Haley stated that he 5\’11, 182-pound receiver might get a look back there, regardless, but personally, I don\’t think that he will be a serious threat to challenge for the job.
When you add the selection of Bell and Wheaten to outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who was drafted in the first round Thursday night, you get three needs taken care of with several more yet to be satisfied. We will look at those remaining needs, and players that match them that remain on the board heading into day three, in a post later on this evening.