A Bleacher Report writer asked five NFL talent evaluators to answer: Who will be the best running back in the NFL in the 2017 season?
Matt Miller, who work appears on CNN.com, said his answer was the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott, the reigning NFL rushing champion.
The response he got from evaluators he trusts: “Every NFL evaluator except for one replied that Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell is the league’s best back.”
One evaluator said, “Bell transcends scheme. You can flex him out and he’s going to beat defenders in one-on-ones as a receiver.”
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Another told Miller:
“With Zeke, you have to worry about how long he’s going to stay committed. Bell’s a dog. He won’t ever quit.”
Oh, that hurts. Particularly since Bell has missed the Steelers’ offseason program, including the mandatory minicamp, because he’s recovering from March groin surgery and he has not signed a contract tender.
And has twice served suspensions, in 2015 following charges of DUI and marijuana possession and in 2016 for missing a mandatory drug screening.
Meanwhile, Elliott said this week he has begun to limit his offseason excursions that have landed him an unsavory spotlight.
The former Ohio State star has turned into a stay-at-home running back, he said, for the past six weeks.
Patrick Walker of 247Sports.com rushes to Elliott’s aid. Walker gives the facts: Elliott outrushed Bell by 363 yards in 2016. He averaged 108.7 yards to Bell’s 105.7. Elliott outgained Bell head-to-head in the Cowboys’ 35-30 win over the Steelers by 209 to 135.
Given the statistical disparity favoring him, in perception, Ezekiel Elliott has his work cut out for him.