Steelers GM Kevin Colbert Says Size, Yards After Contact & Age Were Reasons For Drafting RB Le\’Veon Bell

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was a guest Monday morning on 93.7 The Fan and he talked about the top three draft picks that the team made this past weekend in the 2013 NFL draft. Of the top three first draft picks, the one that he gave the most elaborate responses to questions about was Michigan State running back Le\’Veon Bell, who the Steelers drafted in the second round.

Colbert was first asked what set Bell apart from other running backs that remained on the board come time for them to pick in the second round.

“First of all, the size is great,” said Colbert. “He\’s going to play right around 240. He runs hard, he\’s very patient, he\’s got good vision, he can catch and he can block. So really do it in all three phases in what\’s going to be required as runner was intriguing. But probably the most impressive thing was his yards after contact. You know he ran for over 1,700 yards in the Big Ten and probably half of those yards were after contact.

“So in the National Football League he won\’t have the same types of holes that he had in college, but we\’re sure that he\’ll be able to create room where there is no room just through his physicality. It\’s something he\’s done for his career with a five yard average and seemed that every time he carried the ball, even if it was blocked up only for a one-yard run, he always ended up getting five just by his forward momentum. So that\’s intriguing, plus for only a 21-year-old running back it\’s pretty impressive.”

After that long response, Colbert was next asked if it is easier for a running back to assimilate right into the pro game as opposed to players at other positions, and again Colbert gave a pretty lengthy, yet straight forward response.

“I would imagine from an assignment type of deal, yes, but he still has to learn the speed of his blockers, the speed of the opposition, the flow of the professional defense versus a college defense, said Colbert. “So that type of thing will not be an instant analysis. He\’ll need to work with our defense in training camp and obviously the opponents in the preseason to get a feel for their flow and how he has to set up his runs and where he can expect to find cracks in certain plays that are blocked a certain way.

“So that\’s a time type thing and hopefully he can contribute this year, but when you think about the group that we\’ll have between him and Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, we\’ll now have three big backs to go along with the two other guys that we have, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Baron Batch, who are a little bit smaller and quicker.”

As far as the comments that Colbert made about Bell getting yards after contact, according to STATS Inc., Bell gained 922 of his 1,793 2012 rushing yards (51 percent) after contact, which ranked first among all NCAA FBS running backs, and broke 16 tackles. In addition to that, Bell only lost 51 total yards on his 382 carries that he had last season.

As far as Bell being able to win the starting running back job out of training camp, or shortly thereafter, that will of course all depend on how quick he picks up the offense, and how he plays during practice and in the preseason, just as you would expect. None of what he said was shocking.

Even though Colbert named Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman in his rundown of the running back depth chart, I stand behind my belief that one of the two won\’t make the Steelers 53 man roster. Will both of them make it to training camp? Being as they only have six running backs currently under contract, I would think that has a pretty good chance of happening, but the training camp roster is still far from set, even though it is now full, and they could quite possibly still be trying to trade one of the two as the report on Saturday morning suggested.

  • TJimmy

    Bell replaces Mendenhall and Howling replaces the scat back…so I don’t get why Dwyer or Redman would be let go.

  • Jason Brant

    Salary, most likely. Why pay second and third string running backs $1.3 million a piece? We could use that to resign Starks for some depth on the line.

  • TJimmy

    Hmm.. 1.3 million isn’t much to provide good insurance at a critical position. Time will tell if Dave is right.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    If Redman or Dwyer are cut, can they be brought back at a lower salary?

  • Superdriller316

    Not to mention, all backs will have to be carried on the 53 or cut. Batch plays ST and has a better chance of being retained. Also the fact that Dwyer was rumored to be on the trading block.

  • dgh57

    I’m impressed, 922 yards of his 1793 total or 51% was after contact!! Lost only 51 yards after 382 carries behind a average o-line!! I’m even more anxious to see this guy play!!

  • Nolrog

    We carry too many RBs, mainly, I think, because there isn’t one feature back. We had, what, 5, 6 RBs last year and only 4 WRs or something like that. That has to change.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    It isn’t much to provide insurance but since it’s never about new money and is ALWAYS about which player(s) help the most, I would guess using the 1.3 as a first year hit on a multi year deal for an offensive lineman would help the team a lot more.

    I think Dwyer or redman are easily replaceable mid year if needed.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    A back that can stay healthy AND stay on his feet after getting hit by a stiff breeze is going to be a nice adjustment.

  • Ahmad

    I’m willing to bet that, barring injury, that Redman and Dwyer both will not make the final 53 man roster. Only one will and so far, I’m not really sure who will win that battle. It should make for a good preseason and training camp though.

  • steeltown

    I guess it is entirely possible that only one (Dwyer and Redman) are on the 53man this year. But, my guess is it will come down to Batch or Redman.. and then the other factor will be health.. if either Redman or Batch become injured in training camp or preseason, the decision will be easy

  • charles

    Colbert sounds as if what they like about Bell is his Jerome Bettis characteristics, even on a play that is stuffed he managed to fall forward for 2 yards.

  • Dwyer starts game 1, Bell is the backup, Redman is traded for next to nothing, and the 3rd spot goes to Batch or Stephens-Howling. I actually hope Batch gets it, so I don’t have to see that double last name BS.

  • David Edward

    Right now they have 3 big RBs (Bell, Dwyer, Redman) and 3 small (LaRod, Batch, McNeal). Plus they have Johnson at FB…well two actually Will and David. They like to have 6 RBs for camp so I think they won’t get rid of Dwyer/Redman unless someone offers a great trade..which is unlikely. Now in camp, a lot depends on injury. Either to a Steelers player or elsewhere. An ideal situation would be if all 6 RBs look good and another team wants to offer a trade.

  • David Edward

    If things stay the same and no injuries or trades, then you would expect them to only keep 4 RB plus a FB (Will). Bell is a lock, as is one of the speed guys…with LaRod being the favorite. McNeal would likely be the first odd man out but a potential PS candidate. So, it probably comes down to Dwyer/Redman/Batch competing for two spots.

  • Pete

    I’m in agreement with you. I don’t think 1.3 mil is expensive at all for Dwyer and Redman who have shown their usefulness. Batch and Howling? Not so much. My money is on either Batch or Howling getting cut if they are to cut someone at the RB position. They may very well carry 5 backs again this season and cut no one.