With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: RB Le’Veon Bell
Stock Value: Up
Sticking with a recent theme in this stock series, the next topic of conversation is running back Le’Veon Bell, who is continuing his rehabilitation process from a torn knee that he suffered midway through his third season last year against the Bengals.
Much to the delight of many, however—and perhaps somewhat unexpected given Mike Tomlin’s earlier references to a cautious approach toward his recovery—Bell did indeed suit up at the start of OTAs, and told reporters that physically he feels that he can do anything right now, though he was limited to participating in some individual drills.
Still, that is more than many were expecting that we would be seeing from Bell until perhaps the start of training camp, or perhaps even a bit further beyond that. The fact that he is already able to participate in some level of football activities in late May bodes well for his ability to be very near full capacity for the start of the regular season, which is, after all, the objective.
Bell did talk about the fact that he is listening to the coaches and training staff, who are working to protect him from himself in terms of trying to do too much too soon, but the fact that he believes he is capable of doing it all now speaks volumes about the way that he feels.
Even if he has a reputation for being the most patient runner in the league, it is the fact that he pairs that with explosive athleticism that creates a suddenness that defenses are not prepared for that quickly elevated the former second-round pick to the top of the sport, being named a first-team All-Pro in his second season and setting a team record for yards from scrimmage.
Last year’s injury, which consisted of a torn MCL and PCL, was the second injury in as many years to the same knee, a fact that raises some concerns regarding the long-term durability of said knee, but there have so far been no indications that that will be an issue.
Even if Bell spends the entirely of these May and June drills working the individuals, there is a certain level of relief and excitement that simply comes from seeing him in a helmet, running a route or making a cut. It’s as though it’s a sign of things to come, and the earlier we are able to see those signs, the better it bodes for September.