Le’Veon Bell, RB
Sure Le’Veon Bell’s 2018 divorce from the Pittsburgh Steelers could have and should have been smoother, but the Steelers hit an absolute home run with their second-round and 48th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Le’Veon Bell selection would go on to make up for the Steeler’s whiff on their first-round pick Jarvis Jones of Georgia.
Bell’s legacy with the Steelers will be remembered of high highs and low lows. Like DeCastro, Bell earned first-team All-Pro honors twice and second-team All-Pro honors once while in Pittsburgh.
Bell made the Pro Bowl three times and rushed for 5,336 yards over five seasons in Pittsburgh. Bell is ranked fourth in franchise history in rushing yards and third in touchdowns despite playing in less than half the amount of games in black and gold as Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis. Bell holds the franchise record in rushing yards per game at 86.1 yards/game, significantly higher than Bettis’s 72.9.
It’s not just Bell’s rushing records which put him near the top of great Steeler running backs and as arguably the most talented running back in franchise history, it is the impact he had in one of the league’s most prolific offenses during his time with the franchise. Bell remade himself coming out of Michigan State and was a centerpiece in the Steelers offense, ranking as one of the best running backs and receivers in the league.
In addition to his 1,229 rushing attempts, Bell accounted for an average of 312 receptions with the Steelers, averaging about 45 receiving yards per game in addition to his 86 rushing yards per game. Bell redefined what the position was not just for the Steelers but across the league. Despite all of his success over his five years playing in Pittsburgh, Bell’s time with the Steelers was hardly all glamorous.
After being arrested in 2014 for marijuana possession alongside teammate LeGarrette Blount, Bell missed three games due to a suspension and struggled with injuries. Bell would again miss the first three games of the 2016 season for drug possession and again struggled with an injury, taking him out of the AFC Championship game loss to the Patriots.
After multiple holdouts and franchise tags, Bell sat out the entire 2018 season after rushing the ball 321 times and posting 85 receptions during the 2017 season.
Bell would go on to sign with the New York Jets the following offseason, but his impact will be felt in Pittsburgh and across the league. While the running back position may not carry the same level of importance across the league, Bell will go down as one of the great Pittsburgh Steeler running backs and would be higher on this list if he remained with the Steelers in 2018 and onwards.