Categorized | 2013 Draft, Article, News, Rankings

For Whom The Tall Bell Tolls – A Look At Steelers RB Le\’Veon Bell And His BMI


One of the knocks on Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Le\’Veon Bell is his height, as he measured in at the 2013 NFL Combine at 73.375 inches. Bell was asked about his height during the mandatory mini camp in an interview on 105.9 The X Radio and talked about the pros and cons of it.

“Being a 6\’2″ running back, I\’m going to be one of the taller guys,” said Bell. “That\’s why they teach me to run a little lower here on the next level, because guys can really try to get under me, but I use that for my advantage seeing the defense. It can be an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time, and I\’m just going to try to do the best I can with it.”

Perhaps the bigger factor to consider with Bell is his BMI, which stands for Body Mass Index. Chase Stuart did a study of successful running backs prior to the 2008 NFL Draft on Pro Football Reference and came up with an average BMI of 29.5 when looking at the top 50 running backs with the most rushing yards that entered the league in 1970 or later. The average height of those 50 running backs was 72 inches, and the average weight was 216 pounds.

In case you are curious, Bell had a BMI of 30.03 when measured at the combine back in February, so that puts him just slightly over the average that Stuart came up with in his study.

Quite a few draftniks compared Bell to Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, and while it is a fair comparison, Forte\’s BMI prior to when he was drafted in 2008 was 28.33. There have been durability concerns about Forte over the past few years; however, so you have to wonder if this is because of his height or his lack of BMI.

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden has also had some good production since being drafted in 2008, but like Forte, he too has some durability concerns attached to him and Stuart wondered prior to the him being drafted if his low BMI was a red flag of sorts.

Of the 50 great running backs that Stuart used in his study, 18 of them measured in at 73 or more inches; however, only 7 of them had a BMI of 29.5 or more. Both Fred Taylor and Gerald Riggs had similar BMI measurements to that of Bell, so perhaps that is a good sign.

Speed score is another metric that has come along since Stuart did his study back in 2008, and while not off the charts, Bell\’s score of 102.7 is respectable as it is over the magic number of 100.

When you look at the top 25 rushers of the running backs drafted dating back to 2005 you will see that the average speed score is 109.9, and the average BMI is 30.1. The average height of those 25 running backs is 71.035, however.

Bell is indeed a uniquely put together back and several in the media say that he doesn\’t look like he weighs as much as he does. If the Michigan State product can keep his BMI in the 30-31 range, perhaps his height will indeed play to into his advantage as it relates to seeing the defense better just as he suggested. It\’s obvious that he must keep his pad level low as well in order to not to allow defenders to get under him.

One of the many things that impressed the Steelers about Bell heading into the draft was his ability in college to get yards after contact. In addition to that, Bell is also used to running both the outside and inside zone. On top of everything else, he was considered to be one of the better pass blockers and pass catchers in the 2013 draft class, so he very well could wind up being one of the most complete three down running backs that the team has had since Jerome Bettis.

Time will only tell whether or not tall Bell will toll in Pittsburgh, but I like his chances even though he is taller than the average running back and that is mostly because of his solid BMI and his ability to be more than just a straight ahead inside power runner.

Being as several of you might want to play with the numbers, below are the 171 running backs drafted since 2005. These are sortable by clicking on the headers, so let me know of any other observations that you come across in the comments below.

YEAR ROUND PLAYER TEAM HGT WGT BMI 40 SPEED RUSH YDS TD
2007 1 Adrian Peterson MIN 73.5 217 28.24 4.40 115.8 1754 8849 76
2005 3 Frank Gore SFO 69.375 208 30.38 4.65 89.0 1911 8839 51
2006 2 Maurice Jones-Drew JAX 66.75 207 32.66 4.39 111.5 1570 7268 63
2008 1 Chris Johnson TEN 71 197 27.47 4.24 121.9 1463 6888 44
2007 1 Marshawn Lynch BUF 71.125 215 29.88 4.46 108.7 1452 6132 46
2005 1 Cedric Benson CHI 70.5 222 31.40 4.55 103.6 1600 6017 32
2006 1 DeAngelo Williams CAR 69 214 31.60 4.55 99.9 1169 5784 43
2008 2 Ray Rice BAL 68 199 30.25 4.42 104.3 1216 5520 33
2008 2 Matt Forte CHI 73.375 217 28.33 4.44 111.7 1262 5327 26
2005 1 Ronnie Brown MIA 72.25 233 31.38 4.43 121.0 1216 5171 37
2005 4 Brandon Jacobs NYG 76.25 267 32.28 4.56 123.5 1083 4856 56
2005 4 Marion Barber DAL 71.375 221 30.50 4.49 108.8 1156 4780 53
2008 3 Jamaal Charles KAN 71 200 27.89 4.38 108.7 784 4536 17
2006 1 Joseph Addai IND 71.25 214 29.63 4.40 114.2 1095 4453 39
2007 7 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG 69.5 198 28.82 4.55 92.4 921 4232 32
2006 1 Reggie Bush NOR 70.875 201 28.13 4.38 109.2 967 4162 29
2005 1 Carnell Williams TAM 70.875 217 30.37 4.43 112.7 1055 4038 21
2009 2 LeSean McCoy PHI 70.375 198 28.11 835 3866 30
2008 1 Jonathan Stewart CAR 70.25 235 33.48 4.46 118.8 818 3836 27
2008 1 Rashard Mendenhall PIT 70.125 225 32.17 4.41 119.0 864 3549 29
2009 3 Shonn Greene NYJ 70.5 227 32.11 4.62 99.7 822 3423 18
2008 1 Darren McFadden OAK 73.25 211 27.65 4.33 120.0 769 3334 18
2007 4 Michael Bush OAK 73.375 243 31.73 4.60 108.5 746 3053 26
2008 1 Felix Jones DAL 70.125 207 29.59 4.44 106.5 569 2728 11
2006 1 Laurence Maroney NWE 71.875 217 29.53 4.47 108.7 618 2504 21
2010 1 Ryan Mathews SDG 71.625 218 29.87 4.45 111.2 564 2476 14
2009 1 Chris Wells ARI 73 235 31.00 4.59 105.9 625 2471 24
2009 1 Knowshon Moreno DEN 70.625 217 30.58 4.56 100.4 605 2430 16
2006 2 LenDale White TEN 72.375 238 31.94 628 2349 24
2008 3 Kevin Smith DET 73.125 217 28.53 4.53 103.1 598 2346 17
2006 4 Leon Washington NYJ 67.875 201 30.67 4.42 105.3 473 2213 16
2010 1 C.J. Spiller BUF 70.625 196 27.62 4.37 107.5 388 2088 10
2006 3 Jerious Norwood ATL 71.625 210 28.78 4.40 112.1 399 2056 7
2008 5 Tim Hightower ARI 72 216 29.29 4.60 96.5 523 2054 24
2005 4 Darren Sproles SDG 66.125 187 30.07 4.47 93.7 384 2001 9
2008 3 Steve Slaton HOU 69.125 197 28.98 4.45 100.5 442 1896 13
2009 1 Donald Brown IND 70.25 210 29.91 4.51 101.5 449 1840 11
2011 3 Stevan Ridley NWE 71.25 225 31.16 4.65 96.2 377 1704 13
2006 5 Jerome Harrison CLE 69.25 201 29.47 4.47 100.7 356 1681 7
2008 7 Justin Forsett SEA 68 194 29.49 4.55 90.5 341 1661 8
2012 6 Alfred Morris WAS 69.875 219 31.53 4.67 92.1 335 1613 13
2011 3 Demarco Murray DAL 71.625 213 29.19 4.37 116.8 325 1560 6
2012 1 Doug Martin TAM 69.25 223 32.69 4.55 104.1 319 1454 11
2008 4 Tashard Choice DAL 70.5 215 30.41 4.48 106.7 326 1409 10
2007 2 Brandon Jackson GNB 69.875 210 30.24 4.54 98.9 355 1383 7
2010 2 Ben Tate HOU 71 220 30.68 4.43 114.2 240 1221 6
2011 1 Mark Ingram NOR 69.125 215 31.63 4.62 94.4 278 1076 10
2009 6 Bernard Scott CIN 70.25 200 28.49 4.56 92.5 255 1035 4
2010 2 Toby Gerhart MIN 72 231 31.33 4.60 103.2 240 1022 3
2008 5 Ryan Torain DEN 72.375 222 29.79 4.61 98.3 238 1011 6
2012 1 Trent Richardson CLE 69.25 228 33.42 267 950 11
2010 1 Jahvid Best DET 70.125 199 28.45 4.35 111.2 255 945 6
2009 7 Rashad Jennings JAX 73 231 30.47 4.53 109.7 224 944 7
2010 6 James Starks GNB 74.125 218 27.89 4.50 106.3 233 934 2
2011 2 Daniel Thomas MIA 72.25 230 30.97 4.60 102.7 256 906 4
2011 4 Kendall Hunter SFO 67.25 199 30.93 4.46 100.6 184 844 4
2005 3 Ryan Moats PHI 68.25 210 31.69 4.46 106.1 204 831 8
2012 5 Vick Ballard IND 70.25 219 31.20 4.65 93.7 211 814 2
2011 2 Mikel Leshoure DET 71.625 227 31.11 4.56 105.0 215 798 9
2010 6 Jonathan Dwyer PIT 71.25 229 31.71 4.68 95.5 181 774 2
2005 3 Vernand Morency HOU 69.625 212 30.74 4.66 89.9 171 726 4
2009 4 Mike Goodson CAR 71.875 208 28.30 4.54 97.9 160 722 3
2005 6 Cedric Houston NYJ 71 224 31.24 4.67 94.2 194 676 7
2005 2 J.J. Arrington ARI 68.875 214 31.71 4.40 114.2 183 654 3
2009 7 Larod Stephens-Howling ARI 66.5 179 28.46 4.55 83.5 183 652 5
2011 4 Roy Helu WAS 71.5 219 30.12 4.40 116.9 153 642 2
2011 5 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL 65.875 196 31.75 4.59 88.3 151 567 2
2012 7 Bryce Brown PHI 71.75 219 29.91 4.55 102.2 115 564 4
2007 5 Kolby Smith KAN 71.25 220 30.47 4.50 107.3 162 540 3
2010 2 Montario Hardesty CLE 71.75 225 30.73 4.49 110.7 153 537 1
2012 3 Bernard Pierce BAL 72.25 218 29.36 4.49 107.3 108 532 1
2010 4 Joe McKnight NYJ 71.375 198 27.32 4.47 99.2 112 502 0
2011 4 Delone Carter IND 68.625 225 33.59 4.54 105.9 133 499 5
2009 5 Javon Ringer TEN 69.125 205 30.16 4.59 92.4 120 486 3
2006 6 Wali Lundy HOU 71 214 29.84 4.48 106.3 124 476 4
2011 3 Alexander Green GNB 72.25 225 30.30 4.45 114.8 138 475 0
2012 7 Daryl Richardson STL 70.5 196 27.72 4.46 99.1 98 475 0
2011 4 Bilal Powell NYJ 70.5 207 29.28 4.58 94.1 123 458 4
2007 4 Antonio Pittman NOR 70.75 207 29.07 4.40 110.5 117 435 0
2009 7 Chris Ogbonnaya STL 71.75 220 30.04 4.57 100.9 95 420 1
2011 6 Evan Royster WAS 71.625 212 29.05 4.65 90.7 79 416 2
2007 7 Kenneth Darby TAM 70.375 211 29.95 4.75 82.9 95 408 2
2010 6 Anthony Dixon SFO 72.75 233 30.95 4.75 91.5 120 402 6
2009 4 Andre Brown NYG 72.125 224 30.27 4.49 110.2 75 384 8
2012 1 David Wilson NYG 69.625 206 29.87 4.49 101.4 71 358 4
2012 4 Robert Turbin SEA 70 222 31.85 4.50 108.3 80 354 0
2007 7 DeShawn Wynn GNB 70.375 232 32.93 4.47 116.2 64 332 5
2012 3 Ronnie Hillman DEN 68.75 200 29.75 4.45 102.0 84 327 1
2011 2 Shane Vereen NWE 68.875 203 30.08 4.49 99.9 77 308 4
2010 6 Deji Karim JAX 68.75 210 31.23 4.46 106.1 98 290 0
2007 3 Garrett Wolfe CHI 67.5 186 28.70 4.42 97.5 72 282 1
2006 7 Quinton Ganther TEN 69.5 218 31.73 4.50 106.3 80 280 3
2009 6 Cedric Peerman BAL 69.5 216 31.44 4.45 110.2 41 274 1
2005 7 Noah Herron PIT 71 224 31.24 4.60 100.1 85 273 3
2008 6 Mike Hart IND 68.875 206 30.53 4.69 85.2 71 264 2
2012 4 Lamar Miller MIA 70.75 212 29.77 4.40 113.1 51 250 1
2005 4 Alvin Pearman JAX 69.375 208 30.38 4.63 90.5 58 238 2
2007 3 Lorenzo Booker MIA 70.375 191 27.11 4.46 96.5 61 230 0
2009 3 Glen Coffee SFO 72.125 209 28.24 4.58 95.0 83 226 1
2009 6 Aaron Brown DET 72.5 196 26.21 4.57 89.9 45 189 0
2008 6 Jalen Parmele MIA 71.5 224 30.80 4.47 112.2 47 187 0
2011 5 Dion Lewis PHI 66.625 193 30.57 4.56 89.3 36 171 2
2011 2 Ryan Williams ARI 69.375 212 30.97 4.59 95.5 58 164 0
2008 6 Lex Hilliard MIA 71.125 231 32.10 4.68 96.3 48 163 2
2005 4 Ciatrick Fason MIN 72.75 207 27.50 4.58 94.1 50 161 5
2012 2 LaMichael James SFO 68 194 29.49 4.45 98.9 27 125 0
2007 2 Chris Henry TEN 71.25 230 31.85 4.40 122.7 32 122 2
2012 5 Chris Rainey PIT 68.375 180 27.07 4.45 91.8 26 102 2
2005 5 Damien Nash TEN 69.625 218 31.61 4.54 102.6 24 98 0
2011 4 Taiwan Jones OAK 71.625 194 26.58 4.33 110.4 22 94 0
2007 4 Dwayne Wright BUF 71.5 228 31.35 4.66 96.7 29 94 0
2009 4 Gartrell Johnson SDG 70.25 219 31.20 4.72 88.2 23 79 0
2011 4 Jamie Harper TEN 71.375 233 32.15 4.53 110.7 36 74 4
2011 5 Johnny White BUF 69.875 209 30.09 4.50 101.9 20 72 0
2011 7 Anthony Allen BAL 72.75 228 30.28 4.56 105.5 19 69 1
2009 6 James Davis CLE 71 218 30.40 4.52 104.5 19 60 0
2012 2 Isaiah Pead STL 70.125 197 28.16 4.47 98.7 10 54 0
2006 3 Brian Calhoun DET 69.25 201 29.47 4.57 92.2 14 54 0
2011 7 Baron Batch PIT 69 202 29.83 4.51 97.7 25 49 1
2012 6 Cyrus Gray KAN 70.375 206 29.24 4.47 103.2 7 44 0
2008 6 Xavier Omon BUF 70.75 228 32.02 4.52 109.2 11 27 0
2007 3 Tony Hunt PHI 73.75 233 30.12 4.55 108.7 14 25 2
2011 7 Da\’Rel Scott NYG 71 211 29.43 4.40 112.6 11 25 0
2005 2 Eric Shelton CAR 73.5 246 32.01 4.53 116.8 8 23 0
2011 6 Allen Bradford TAM 71.875 242 32.93 4.53 114.9 5 13 0
2008 7 Chauncey Washington JAX 71.375 211 29.12 4.60 94.2 5 8 0
2011 6 Jordan Todman SDG 68.875 203 30.08 4.40 108.3 3 8 0
2009 7 Javarris Williams KAN 69.5 223 32.46 4.52 106.9 6 6 0
2012 6 Dan Herron CIN 69.75 213 30.78 4.66 90.3 4 5 0
2013 6 Latavius Murray OAK 75.25 224 27.81 4.38 121.7
2013 2 Le\’veon Bell PIT 73.375 230 30.03 4.60 102.7
2006 7 Cedric Humes PIT 72.875 227 30.05 4.62 99.7
2008 7 Allen Patrick BAL 72.75 198 26.30 4.50 96.6
2008 7 Cory Boyd TAM 72.5 213 28.49 4.52 102.1
2008 5 Marcus Thomas SDG 72.25 213 28.69 4.59 96.0
2013 5 Joseph Randle DAL 72 204 27.66 4.63 88.8
2013 7 Michael Cox NYG 71.875 220 29.94 4.58 100.0
2005 3 Maurice Clarett DEN 71.625 234 32.07 4.78 89.6
2005 7 Lionel Gates BUF 71.625 222 30.42 4.60 99.2
2012 6 Terrance Ganaway NYJ 71.5 239 32.87 4.67 100.5
2010 6 Charles Scott PHI 71.375 238 32.84 4.72 95.9
2013 3 Knile Davis KAN 71.375 227 31.32 4.37 124.5
2009 7 Fui Vakapuna CIN 71.25 247 34.20 4.70 101.2
2013 4 Marcus Lattimore SFO 71.25 221 30.60 4.58 100.5
2013 5 Mike Gillislee MIA 71.125 208 28.91 4.55 97.1
2013 2 Eddie Lacy GNB 71 231 32.21 4.53 109.7
2011 7 Jay Finley CIN 70.875 198 27.71 4.50 96.6
2007 2 Kenny Irons CIN 70.625 203 28.61 4.45 103.5
2013 2 Montee Ball DEN 70.5 214 30.27 4.66 90.8
2007 6 Thomas Clayton SFO 70.25 218 31.05 4.63 94.9
2013 6 Rex Burkhead CIN 70.25 214 30.48 4.73 85.5
2013 6 Spencer Ware SEA 70.125 228 32.59 4.60 101.8
2006 4 P.J. Daniels BAL 70.125 214 30.59 4.64 92.3
2013 2 Christine Michael SEA 70 220 31.56 4.54 103.6
2013 4 Johnathan Franklin GNB 70 205 29.41 4.49 100.9
2005 6 DeAndra Cobb ATL 69.75 196 28.32 4.49 96.4
2013 6 Kenjon Barner CAR 69.25 196 28.73 4.52 93.9
2013 6 Andre Ellington ARI 69.25 199 29.17 4.61 88.1
2013 5 Stepfan Taylor ARI 69.125 214 31.48 4.76 83.4
2009 5 Frank Summers PIT 69.125 243 35.75 4.65 103.9
2007 7 Nate Ilaoa PHI 68.875 245 36.31 4.77 94.7
2008 6 Thomas Brown ATL 68.375 204 30.68 4.51 98.6
2013 5 Zachary Stacy STL 68.375 216 32.48 4.55 100.8
2013 2 Giovani Bernard CIN 68.375 202 30.37 4.53 95.9
2012 7 Michael Smith TAM 68.375 206 30.98 4.32 118.3
2013 7 Kerwynn Williams IND 68.125 195 29.54 4.48 96.8
2012 7 Edwin Baker SDG 68 204 31.01 4.53 96.9
2013 7 Jawan Jamison WAS 67.375 203 31.44 4.68 84.6
2013 5 Chris Thompson WAS 67.125 192 29.96 4.50 93.6
2005 7 Anthony Davis IND 66.625 200 31.67 4.50 97.5
2013 6 Mike James TAM 61.5 223 41.45 4.53 105.9

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • steeltown

    very interesting

  • steves

    How did they come up with the speed score? Why I am asking is you can’t tell me that Brandon Jacobs is faster than Chris Johnson – No way!!

  • SteelersDepot
  • moderatelysane

    The beginning of the table puts the fear to rest. AP is the same height. I’ll take his production.

  • mem359

    Now I’m wondering about the BMI of the other Steeler backs on the bubble (Dwyer, Redman, Batch).

  • steves

    They explain how to get the formula and I appreciate letting me know. Jacobs is a BIG dude but Bradshaw had him beat. Jacobs was just a fill in for Bradshaw.
    How a persons heart is,, is very hard to rate. The Bus would mow you over and Jacobs would try to run around. Bus loved the game and Jacobs mind was somewhere else.
    Gore had a very low speed and 40 time but look at the yardage he picked up. A lot has to do with the OL and the cohisiveness with the Offense. Which the Steelers had neither of last year, and why they were 8-8.
    How come Shady McCoys speed and 40 times are not listed?

  • steves

    I see Dwyer and Stephens-Howling in the middle of the pack. Dwyer had a BMI of 31.71 and Howling had a BMI of 28.46 – No tellin on the others.

  • dgh57

    Three RBs who I can think of that went on to have very successful NFL careers who were all over 6′ 1: Eddie George, Marcus Allen, and Eric Dickerson!

    If they can do it, Bell has a chance to do it to!

  • Douglas Andrews

    Speed Score on some of these backs is really interesting. There are some really good big backs on that list. I agree that Bell doesn’t look the part of a 6’2″ 230 pounder but he sure runs hard. I like the comparision to Eddie George and if that’t the case he should really help out our run game this year.

  • charles

    There are also immeasurables like JamesHarrison’s natural strength and Barry Sanders peripheral vision. Yards after contact might speak to these things since good peripheral vision can keep you from being hit well and natural strength can get you a few more yards. We will have to wait and see what immeasurables Bell brings. I am hoping they are good immeasurables and not bad immeasurables like fumblitis.

  • Luke Shabro

    Kid reminds me of a cross between Forte and Marion Barber. I hope to God he lasts longer than Barber

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