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Steelers Take RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Markus Wheaton In Round Two Of Draft

The Steelers loaded up their backfield on Friday in day two of the NFL draft, first coming to terms with free agent RB LaRod Stephens-Howling from Arizona, and then snagging Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell with their second round pick.

“Without getting into the specifics, as the process went on it was pretty clear this was the guy we would be most excited about being available when it came to our pick,” said offensive coordinator Todd Haley. “In the end, he was (our top-rated running back). Without getting into specifics, there are a lot of different factors that go into that. He is a young guy who is big. With no disrespect, I drew some Eddie George physical comparisons to him because Le’Veon is taller than what you would normally see. He’s a good athlete. We love the fact that he catches the ball really well, and he still has that big back presence.”

With the Spartans in 2012 as a junior, Bell ran for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s known as a power back and also has experience in the Wildcat when Michigan State got into the red zone.

“I’m a balanced runner,” said Bell. “I’m a bigger guy. I’m 230 pounds. I can go in there and get the tough yardage and even though a lot of people look at me and think, ‘He’s just a short yardage back,’ I don’t look at myself like that. I can get to the outside. I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I can pass protect. I can play special teams. There’s a lot of things that I can do to bring value to the Steelers, and that’s what I plan on doing.”

The club also hoped they found the replacement for Mike Wallace, picking up Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton.

“He is a highly productive receiver out of Oregon State, a four-year guy who had great production as a receiver, and he also handled the football as a runner a bunch, which we like from a versatility standpoint,” Haley said.

“He’s a good solid football player who brings speed to the team. He’s a fast guy, make no mistake about it, a guy who can stretch the field.”

Wheaton had 30 straight starts with Oregon State, and caught a school-record 227 passes, for 2,994 yards and 16 scores. He added 631 yards rushing on 83 carries (7.6 average), with more five scores.

“To be honest, I envision myself anywhere,” said Wheaton. “I played a lot of outside in college. Obviously, it’s not the same as the NFL, but I feel I can produce outside. If I do need to play inside, I feel I can do both. I like being all over the place. The defense can’t really plan for you when they don’t know where you’re going to be. So I like being all over the place.”

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. DrGeorge

    April 27, 2013 at 10:44 am

    No question we have needs at RB and WR. Bell and Wheaton fill those needs, although other RBs with greater speed were available and Bell brings nothing that Mendenhall didn’t have, except perhaps an ability to hold onto the ball. Bell and Wheaton will both contribute during 2013, so we got adequate value for the picks. I won’t quibble with that, either. But if the O-line isn’t better in 2013, Bell won’t make any difference. If Ben R. continues to run Haley’s offense as he did in 2012, Wheaton won’t make any difference. The underlying problems on offense are more fundamental than the RB and WR positions.

    The Steelers will come to regret both of these picks, even if Bell and Wheaton live up to expectations. In favoring the offense over the defense for the third straight year, Tomlin and Colbert have essentially committed to out-scoring opponents in 2013 rather than stopping them. In a word, they threw LeBeau under the bus. The talent we lost on D since the Super Bowl has not been replaced, and LeBeau cannot reasonably be asked to excel with second-rate talent on the D-line and at corner. We can hope that some of our young guys on D mature into first-rate talent this year, but if what we saw in 2012 is as good as they are going to get, it won’t be good enough.

    It appears that our draft choices, both last year and in 2013, are dictated in large measure by the enormous salary and obeisance given Ben R. Both constrain our ability to draft intelligently. The tail is wagging the dog in Pittsburgh, as it did during the 9 years that the Steelers wandered in the wilderness while Cowher tried in vain to turn C. Stewart into a QB. Ben R. is a far better QB than Stewart, but his abilities have been allowed to create a similar imbalance in the team, as reflected in our coaching and drafting decisions. The staff had a chance to rectify that imbalance in the first three picks of 2013, and it failed. The remaining talent in the draft isn’t good enough to fill the need, and we lack the funds to do it with UFAs afterward. In short, the logic behind these two picks assures us of another mediocre season in 2013.

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