It's become common knowledge these days that Running Backs have a pretty short shelf life in the NFL, lasting on average between 4 and 5 years, which means teams have to draft them, play them, and hope they can make it to their second contract. It is such a physically demanding position that their longevity is based almost solely on how many carries they get, which is a finite number before their bodies start to wear down. A guy who has a bunch of carries, but was pretty successful at them, is Le'Veon Bell of Michigan State.
Bell was a workhorse for the Spartans, carrying the ball 671 times in his three years in East Lansing, including an NCAA-best 382 a season ago. That works out to just shy of 30 times a game. To say he was the MSU Offense would be an understatement. He rushed for 3346 yards in his career (1793 last season), had 78 receptions for 531 yards, and scored 34 touchdowns. When the Spartans needed a big play, Bell was the guy. He was named First Team All-Big Ten last season.
Bell is a tough, bruising back that is rarely taken down on first contact, and eats up yards after contact. According to STATS, Inc., Bell had 922 yards after contact, best in the NCAA. He's the kind of back (and I know this from experience watching him) that will get you the four yards when you need four, or one yard if you need one yard. He does have his limitations, however, in that he usually hits the hole and goes straight, sometimes missing cutback lanes. He also isn't the greatest receiver out the backfield (despite about 3 catches per game last season). He most likely won't be asked to catch many balls at the next level, but it's still something that he may need to do to fool the Defense.
With new Colts Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton bringing his Stanford Offense to Indianapolis, Bell seems like a perfect fit for the smash-mouth, heavy package sets. He has a similar style to Delone Carter, and is probably a bit better, but it's tough to tell by how much. I've seen Bell projected as high as the second round, and as low as the 4th round, so it's unclear whether he'd even make it to the Colts pick in the 3rd Round, or whether he'd still be around late in the 4th round. For the Colts, I think the 3rd round is a little too high, but a 4th would be a decent value pick, and give Hamilton a bruiser he's used to. I worry about the number of carries he had in college, but with a limited workload he could be a good back for 4-5 years.
Big, bruising back with power in his lower body but lighter feet than you’d expect give his size. North-south runner effective in one and two-back sets. Strong cuts and a nice burst out of them makes him capable of breaking off big runs when the hole is available. Sets up defenders in the open field to cut away. Flashes some stop-start ability and shake in space that freezes oncoming defenders. Pushes piles with lower body strength. Can lower his pads for contact, churn through tackle attempts to become difficult to bring down due to second and third efforts.
Taller back who presents a big target for defenders to hit, especially when failing to lower his pads going into the hole. Size also limits his breakaway speed and ability to create on his own if challenged by better front sevens.Sub par vision prevents him from seeing cut back lines and sees him running up the back of his lead blocker too often.
Strengths: Strong-build and well proportioned with thick hips. Very good balance and stays low to the ground through contact. More of a downhill athlete who picks up speed as he goes. Stays light on his feet and has some deception to his game, slipping through cracks at the line of scrimmage. Tough runner to bring down cleanly, often carrying defenders.
Weaknesses: Not overly powerful despite his size and lacks breakaway speed to leave defenders in the dust. Smooth acceleration but not a burner and shows little burst in his cuts. Lacks speed on stretch plays and won't be able to make a living in the NFL going east/west as much as he did in college. Too hesitant and patient at times and gets himself in trouble when he stops his feet, taking time to survey the field and figure it his next move.
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