While Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is currently regarded by many as being the best all-around player in the NFL at his position, he’s yet to win a rushing title. Even so, in a recent poll of nine NFL.com analysts, none of them predicted that Bell would accomplish that feat in 2017.
According to votes cast by Elliot Harrison, Jeffri Chadiha, Steve Wyche, Adam Rank, Alex Gelhar, Gil Brandt, Bucky Brooks, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Heath Evans, Bell was omitted entirely in favor of the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard, LeSean McCoy, David Johnson, and Adrian Peterson when it comes to their predictions on who will win the 2017 NFL rushing title.
Last season, Bell rushed for 1,268 yards in just 12 regular season games as he missed the first three due to a suspension and the finale due to him being rested for the playoffs. Elliott easily won the 2016 rushing title with 1,631 yards as a rookie while Howard was a distant second with 1,313 yards on the ground. While Bell only finished fifth overall last season, he was just 45 yards short of Howard.
On the surface, it’s probably not a shock that all nine of the NFL.com analysts decided to shy away from Bell as their choice to win the rushing title in 2017. For starters and enders, Bell has only managed to play in all 16 regular games of a single season just once during his first four years in the league. During that 2014 season, however, Bell rushed for a career-high 1,361 yards and only Murray had more than he did (1,845).
Even though the Steelers selected running back James Conner in the third-round of the 2017 NFL Draft and signed veteran free agent running back Knile Davis earlier in the offseason, Bell, who is currently rehabbing from offseason groin surgery, is still expected to receive the lion’s share of carries in 2017 once again. If he’s able to stay healthy for all 16 games this season, you have to like his chances of setting a new career-high in rushing yards and especially when you consider the offensive line he’ll likely be running behind.
The NFL hasn’t had a repeat rushing title leader since Tomlinson accomplished the feat in 2006 and 2007. With that said, Elliott probably has a good chance of repeating in 2017 as long as he stays healthy. Bell, however, has just as good of a chance of winning the title as Elliott and the other four players who received votes from the NFL.com analysts.