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hawaiiansteel
03-03-2015, 12:04 AM
SKIP TRASH HEAP AND DRAFT BELL'S BACKUP

Mar 02, 2015
Jim Wexell
Publisher SteelCityInsider.net

http://imgix.scout.com/148/1487989.jpg?w=600&h=360&fit=max

Why should the Steelers sort through the trash bin for Le'Veon Bell's backup? Not when this year's draft crop of RB prospects is so rich.

The idiot commissioner certainly has his hands full with real issues this offseason, but he'll no doubt take the time to hand Le'Veon Bell a suspension for his marijuana arrest last September.

It will leave the Steelers, at the least in the opener, with Dri Archer and Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison.

Or Josh Harris, as GM Kevin Colbert no doubt meant to say during a group interview a week before the combine.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans have seen this movie before. It ended their season. Badly. So they're scanning a list of street free agents that's expanding by the day.

In fact, the metropolitan headline last week read "Which Vet RB Should Steelers Want?"

The candidates are impressive -- at least on paper: Steven Jackson, Reggie Bush, DeAngelo Williams, Ray Rice and Peyton Hills.

Picking one of them up wouldn't cost the Steelers anything more than a minimum wage contract, and the deal wouldn't even factor into next season's compensatory-pick equation.

Still, I'll pass.

To tell the truth, I'm really not much interested in the more expensive free agents, either. Dale Lolley, in his free-agency preview for us, suggested Roy Helu and Daniel Thomas.

I liked Helu coming out of Nebraska but don't see the need to spend money there when the crop of draft prospects is so talented and deep. The Steelers should instead invest their money in their own free agents and maybe some depth for both lines come March 10.

Running back, in fact, is a position at which a rookie should have the least problem starting an opener. And it seems these rookies would have no problem going back to being No. 2 behind Bell, who has become the rage of the next generation of runners.

"I pretty much like Le’Veon Bell’s running style," T.J. Yeldon told the combine media when asked to name his favorite back. "I watch his highlights and I just look at him a lot."

"I grew up being a C.J. Spiller fan," said Todd Gurley. "But I’ve definitely started to like Le’Veon Bell’s game this past couple of years."

“Growing up, a big Adrian Peterson fan," said David Cobb. "Eddie George is kind of why I wore the 27. Terrell Davis, I used to like Terrell Davis and dad was a big Terrell Davis fan. But right now, I love watching Le’Veon Bell.”

The last Steelers player to be so "in" with the combine cool kids was probably Troy Polamalu. Even the old-timers are impressed with Bell.

"I challenged Le'Veon this year at the Super Bowl," Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk told TV viewers, "I said, 'Listen, you have it in you to do a thousand (rushing)/thousand (receiving). I want to see it. And he looked at me and said, 'You know what? That's my goal.'

"I believe he can accomplish the feat," Faulk continued. "He has the endurance to do it, we've seen him in the passing game, and he can tote the air out of the football. So I'm looking forward to seeing him this year. Last year, coming back slimmed down, just imagine what he would've done at the combine, the slim Le'Veon Bell that we saw last season."

Bell, who played last season in the 220-225 range, actually was down at the combine from his Michigan State playing weight of 244. He checked into the 2013 combine at 6-1.3, 230 and ran the 40 in 4.56 with an impressive 10 split of 1.52. He also impressed scouts with a 3-cone time of 6.75.

The college prospect most similar to Bell, both physically and in play style, is Northern Iowa's David Johnson, a 6-0.5, 224-pounder. He ran his 40 in 4.50 with a 1.58 10-yard split. He also impressed with a 6.82 3-cone time, 25 bench reps, and had an eye-popping 41 1/2-inch vertical jump.

Johnson showed at the Senior Bowl that he's similar to Bell in running style, particularly on his 19-yard touchdown run to open the scoring. It came at the end of a practice week in which he was named Top Running Back while impressing scouts with both his running and receiving skills.

In four years at UNI, Johnson rushed for 4,682 yards (5.4 avg.) and 49 touchdowns, caught 141 passes for 1,734 yards and 14 touchdowns, returned 12 kickoffs at a 36.5 average (which included a 98-yard touchdown), and even completed both of his passes, one for a touchdown.

Johnson didn't compile those gaudy stats against just the small D-1 schools of the Missouri Valley Conference. He once rushed for 199 yards against Iowa State, had 107 receiving yards against Wisconsin, and this past season had 203 receiving yards against Iowa.

"That's something I work on a lot," Johnson said of his receiving skills. "Going into college all I was working on was receiving. My college actually recruited me as an athlete to play receiver. I played receiver for the first week of camp. That’s where it came from, training for that."

Another college back who would fit seamlessly into the Steelers' backfield as Bell's replacement is Yeldon, who checked in at 6-1.2, 226. His times were slower, 4.61 (40), 1.70 (10) and 7.19 (3-cone). Still, Yeldon met with Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin in a formal sitdown interview after completing his career at Alabama.

"I have good vision, good cutting ability," said Yeldon. "I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I can split out wide and catch the ball. It just depends on how somebody wants to use me in their offense."

If they're using him to replace Bell, that's the precise job description. Yeldon also professed his preference for outside zone plays, which the Steelers want to use more often to suit Bell's style.

To that end, Johnson and Yeldon would fit perfectly into the Steelers' offense as early-season replacements.

They're probably third-round prospects and will test the Steelers' patience at that point in the draft because there are so many quality running backs, one of whom should be available in the fourth.

Like Jeremy Langford. Bell's former backup at Michigan State has obviously filled that niche in the past.

"I've watched a lot of running backs in the NFL," Langford said. "I like Le'Veon. He's a good running back, a real good running back."

Langford, who's two-and-a-half months older than Bell, went to MSU as a running back but bounced around at cornerback and wide receiver before backing up Bell in 2012. After Bell left, Langford rolled up 2,944 yards and 40 touchdowns rushing the last two seasons and had 15 consecutive 100-yard rushing games in Big Ten games. He also caught 39 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown the last two seasons.

What does he bring to the proverbial table?

“I think my versatility, being able to catch the ball out of the backfield, is huge in the NFL, to be a three-down back," he said. "I also feel I can run the ball between the tackles and get the short yards.”

What does he need to work on?

“My technique: pass blocking and being able to run through contact better, which always comes with more experience.”

And what might NFL teams not know about him?

“My ability to hit the home run, my speed," Langford said.

Two days later he proved it by posting the fastest official RB times this year in both the 40 (4.42) and 10 (1.56). He jumped 34 1/2 vertically, but at 5-11.5, 208 posted mediocre agility times of 7.22 (3-cone) and 4.32 (short shuttle). He didn't bench because he's recovering from an injury to his AC joint that's not considered to be a long-term problem.

"I was in the same room with (Bell) for a year, but I think I learned more when he left and I watched his previous games," Langford said. "I learned a lot from his previous games: How he ran the ball, his patience."

Has Langford noticed that Bell needs a backup?

"They've got Dri Archer," Langford said. "And I forget the other dude."

No worries. So did the GM.

http://pit.scout.com/story/1522658-skip-trash-heap-and-draft-bell-s-backup?s=68

papillon
03-03-2015, 12:07 AM
Hey, if he's there in the 5th round, no problem , drafting a RB prior to the 5th is like drafting a punter. :) Oh wait...

Pappy

Discipline of Steel
03-03-2015, 08:15 AM
Yinz know Im a Spartan homer but Ive watched Langford all year and i dont think he makes it out of the 3rd round, we would be lucky to nab him in this draft.
And yes, backup RB is a very important hole for us to fill this off-season. As it stands now, if Bell gets injured we are sunk and without a credible backup he is more likely to get injured.

Shawn
03-03-2015, 08:57 AM
I think Wexell is reading my mind. David Johnson is the guy we need to be aiming for in the third. He looks like Bell on film.

phillyesq
03-03-2015, 09:20 AM
I'm fine with a veteran backup, but if the Steelers feel that they can get a versatile backup in the mid rounds, I think that is certainly a worthwhile investment.

BradshawsHairdresser
03-03-2015, 09:46 AM
I'm with Wex. Skip the scrap heap. Draft a RB and use the FA money to go after some defensive help.

RuthlessBurgher
03-03-2015, 10:10 AM
I think Wexell is reading my mind. David Johnson is the guy we need to be aiming for in the third. He looks like Bell on film.

If we address the pass rush and the secondary in the first two rounds (in whichever order), then I would be quite happy with David Johnson in round 3. He seems to check off every box that we could be looking for. If he was from, say, Alabama instead of Northern Iowa, he could be a borderline first round type of talent, I would think.

pfelix73
03-03-2015, 04:08 PM
No way. Sign a FA and move on to the draft concentrating on the defense...

hausparty
03-03-2015, 05:35 PM
Or how about we take Reggie Bush for 1 season and still draft Bell's future backup.
Again why not have that ROOKIE and Archer learn the playbook a bit more and have a true Mentor on the sideline with them during the games.
At this point in his career Reggie will provide that to our team and he makes a lot of sense even in regard to a new Rookie RB.
Do you really want the pot smoker 15 month probation guy mentoring your young backs? I love Bell and he probably has learned from his mistake but at the same time it doesn't mean young men will look to him for mentorship. That leadership trait is EARNED not given.

LordVile
03-03-2015, 06:44 PM
Or how about we take Reggie Bush for 1 season and still draft Bell's future backup.
Again why not have that ROOKIE and Archer learn the playbook a bit more and have a true Mentor on the sideline with them during the games.
At this point in his career Reggie will provide that to our team and he makes a lot of sense even in regard to a new Rookie RB.
Do you really want the pot smoker 15 month probation guy mentoring your young backs? I love Bell and he probably has learned from his mistake but at the same time it doesn't mean young men will look to him for mentorship. That leadership trait is EARNED not given.

so pot smokers are LOSERS?? how easily you disregard the season he has had... His ability on the field speaks for itself.

SS Laser
03-03-2015, 07:11 PM
so pot smokers are LOSERS?? how easily you disregard the season he has had... His ability on the field speaks for itself. I would not say pot smokers are losers. But would agree that some players will look down on that. So yes Bell has leadership production on the field but at this point he needs work for off the field! Was the point. So a vet RB in the camp and the RB room is a good idea. It has helped the WR group IMO! But I only want a "cheap" friendly cap price vet RB. Just incase the need to cut that player happens after camp this season or next off season. Bush might price himself out of the possibility for the Steelers. Still like Bush or Jackson if price is right and still draft a RB if the value is there and/or BPA. I would even kick the tires on McFadden and others. LOL :)

steelblood
03-03-2015, 07:16 PM
Hey, if he's there in the 5th round, no problem , drafting a RB prior to the 5th is like drafting a punter. :) Oh wait...

Pappy

That is such a short sighted approach.

If we draft a guy early, he would start at least two games perhaps a lot more. He could also get 5-10 touches a game when Bell is healthy.

SS Laser
03-03-2015, 08:26 PM
Have to add after the McCoy trade I would go after CJ Spiller at least to see his price. Him and Bush match what the Steelers Offensive needs in a RB. He can also KR/PR which is nice. Might even help some of our young guys with KR/PR for the future. :)

NJ-STEELER
03-03-2015, 10:26 PM
seeing this team without bell in the line up vs the ravens and even the first 4 games in his rookie season shows what a good/great back does for this offense.
I'd have a quality back up handy for that reason. I'd be fine with a RB drafted in the 3rd round. even give bell a few series off to keep him fresh

Shoe
03-04-2015, 12:07 AM
No way. Sign a FA and move on to the draft concentrating on the defense...

You said it. Of course it would be nice to draft a guy, but we already spent a pick last year at RB. And, the fact is, RBs ARE a dime-a-dozen. A guy like Ben Tate is fine as a backup. We have too many needs, starting with CB, S, TE, more OL, to worry about a position we can easily fill in FA.

Shawn
03-04-2015, 07:58 AM
If we address the pass rush and the secondary in the first two rounds (in whichever order), then I would be quite happy with David Johnson in round 3. He seems to check off every box that we could be looking for. If he was from, say, Alabama instead of Northern Iowa, he could be a borderline first round type of talent, I would think. I agree. IMO, he is a top 3 back in this draft.

Shawn
03-04-2015, 08:05 AM
so pot smokers are LOSERS?? how easily you disregard the season he has had... His ability on the field speaks for itself. I think you just set up a strawman. Haus never called Bell a loser. He questioned his leadership based on him being a knucklehead. I don't believe pot to be the "evil weed", but it's still illegal and an issue with the NFL. Smoking pot was poor judgment at the very least. It has cost us his presence for at least 2 games. So, I would question his leadership at this point as well. Hopefully, he learns from his mistake and grows just as all young men should. But, he has to earn that...not just on the field but off.

Slapstick
03-04-2015, 03:27 PM
How about Bilal Powell?

phillyesq
03-04-2015, 03:34 PM
How about Bilal Powell?

I thought I read somewhere that the Jets are going to make a big push to resign him. But he's the kind of guy that would absolutely make sense.

RuthlessBurgher
03-04-2015, 05:32 PM
Looks like Pierre Thomas will be released as well. He only had 45 rushes last year...but also had 45 catches as well. That seems to fit how we use our RB's now. Two years ago, he had 147 carries, and 77 catches. And he is used to working in a timeshare where other backs are featured.

Shoe
03-05-2015, 12:21 AM
Looks like Pierre Thomas will be released as well. He only had 45 rushes last year...but also had 45 catches as well. That seems to fit how we use our RB's now. Two years ago, he had 147 carries, and 77 catches. And he is used to working in a timeshare where other backs are featured.

Exactly. Guys like that are precisely what we need. He will produce better than 90% of rookie RBs next year (cuz he can probably pass-block better), and since that's the case... what would be the point (of spending a pick on a RB). We need to spend TWO picks in the secondary. We also have a LB need, we have a STRONG TE need, you can always spend a pick in either trench... Back-up RB is a luxury.

SS Laser
03-05-2015, 02:03 AM
Exactly. Guys like that are precisely what we need. He will produce better than 90% of rookie RBs next year (cuz he can probably pass-block better), and since that's the case... what would be the point (of spending a pick on a RB). We need to spend TWO picks in the secondary. We also have a LB need, we have a STRONG TE need, you can always spend a pick in either trench... Back-up RB is a luxury. I disagree that a back up RB is a luxury pick. The Steelers offense was putting up points when the RB was the main focus. Ravens game showed that. So there is a major need for a RB who can at least be the "focus" when Bell is out and IF he gets hurt again. I hope a FA vet could do that but would not pass up a BPA pick at RB after the 3rd rd IMO.

Chadman
03-05-2015, 02:28 AM
I get people wanting to have a quality back-up RB, but given the usage of Bell, it simply HAS to be a 'value' player. This is a guy that MIGHT get 5 touches a game.

You don't want to invest a second 3rd round draft pick into a RB that touches the ball 5 times a game.

There will be plenty of FA RB's to pick from. Find the one that best fits the system in case Bell goes down. But don't sign a guy to a multi-year deal, or draft a high round player, to sit & ride the pine.

Discipline of Steel
03-05-2015, 09:06 AM
I get people wanting to have a quality back-up RB, but given the usage of Bell, it simply HAS to be a 'value' player. This is a guy that MIGHT get 5 touches a game.

You don't want to invest a second 3rd round draft pick into a RB that touches the ball 5 times a game.

There will be plenty of FA RB's to pick from. Find the one that best fits the system in case Bell goes down. But don't sign a guy to a multi-year deal, or draft a high round player, to sit & ride the pine.

I dont know, the backup RB HAS to be good. He MIGHT end up being our #1 option and he WILL have to provide quality touches every game lest 'we milk the bellcow until his udders fall off'.

hawaiiansteel
03-05-2015, 01:48 PM
I disagree that a back up RB is a luxury pick.

I agree with you, a good back up RB is a luxury pick UNTIL God forbid something happens to Le'Veon Bell and then it instantly becomes a major need...

hawaiiansteel
03-08-2015, 06:25 PM
Frank Gore to sign with Eagles

Updated: March 8, 2015
By Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan | ESPN

Free-agent running back Frank Gore has told people he will sign this week with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to league sources.

Barring a breakdown in talks, Gore is expected to sign a three-year deal in which $7.5 million in the first two years is guaranteed.

Gore's decision will end an impressive 10-year run with the San Francisco 49ers.

The final price tag, which the two sides still have to negotiate, is expected to come in at less than half of former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who is signing a new deal this week with the Buffalo Bills. But the Eagles plan to hand their starting job to Gore, and he has informed other teams that he has made his decision, sources said.

Free-agent cornerback Byron Maxwell told ESPN's Josina Anderson that he will sign with the Eagles when free agency begins Tuesday.

The Eagles were considered the front-runner for Maxwell. However, they had to fend off the Seattle Seahawks, who had been making a last-ditch effort to bring Maxwell back to Seattle, according to sources.

But the Eagles don't have to worry about who their new running back will be. It will be Gore, who will turn 32 in May.

Gore is the type of locker room leader that Eagles coach Chip Kelly covets. Gore is coming off four straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons and has rushed for over 1,000 yards in eight of the past nine seasons. The only season over the past nine in which he failed to reach that threshold was 2010, when he missed five games with a broken hip. Gore is considered an excellent pass protector as well.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Gore was a big proponent of Jim Harbaugh returning to the Niners, who instead "mutually" parted ways with the coach and promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to the head-coach position. Gore said he wanted to see what the 49ers did with the job before deciding his own future.

Maxwell, 27, was a starter all season in 2014, except for three games when he was out with an injury. With quarterbacks trying to avoid throwing at cornerback Richard Sherman, Maxwell was tested often (once every 5.7 snaps) but without much success from opposing quarterbacks, who averaged only an 81.1 passer rating against him.

He had two interceptions and 12 passed defensed in 2014. He played both the outside corner spot and at nickelback last season.

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/12445109/frank-gore-plans-sign-philadelphia-eagles?addata=module-b