For the second year in a row, Le’Veon Bell has been named to Elliot Harrison’s All Under-25 team. The post, originally written up back in March but updated a few days ago, also selected Stephon Tuitt to the group.
Bell, who turned 24 in February, “is quite simply the best running back in pro football,” according to Harrison. Amazingly still just 24, he’s rushed for over 2700 yards and 19 touchdowns in his career. He still made the list despite playing in six games a year ago, rushing for over 550 yards but averaging a career-best 4.9 yards per carry. He’s also caught 152 career passes, including a franchise high 83 in 2014.
Of course, Harrison also pointed out health as the biggest hurdle Bell has to overcome. He’s most recently coming off a torn MCL that shelved him for the second half of 2015.
Harrison referred to Tuitt as a “building block” in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense, breaking out in his first full year starting with 6.5 sacks despite missing two games with a knee injury. Tuitt’s progression has been rapid and frankly, necessary, for a Steelers’ unit that doesn’t boast great defensive line depth. He’ll continue to team up with Cameron Heyward to be one of the best bookend combinations in the league.
Tuitt is actually turning 23 today. So a Happy Birthday to him.
Two other players from the AFC North made the list. Baltimore Ravens’ inside linebacker C.J. Mosley and Cleveland Browns’ offensive guard Joel Bitonio.
It would be greedy to ask for another Steelers on this league-wide list and there really isn’t a “snub” anyway. Ryan Shazier still has the potential to be a top player, and has certainly flashed, but his inability to stay healthy is an obvious reason to leave him off. Though an astute reader would point out Harrison listed Jordan Hicks as part of his team, a 2015 rookie who played in just eight games last season before tearing his pectoral in November.