Why Bell is on the list
Bell missed the first three weeks of the season while recovering from a foot sprain, but immediately took on a heavy workload upon his debut. The Steelers found different ways to get the ball in the hands of their 2013 second-round pick -- screens, direct snaps, draws, go routes. Bell's versatility makes him a true three-down back.
Bell's abilities jump out at you on tape. He's a sleek, powerful runner with quick feet, special cutting ability and good vision. He routinely turned 1-yard losses into 7-yard gains. His confidence built as the season wore on: He averaged 4.0 yards per carry in his final five games after averaging 3.2 yards in his first eight games.
That's very good news for Bell, who's going to eat even with some new company on the running back depth chart. Talent plus opportunity are intersecting here. Bell is set up for big things.
LeGarrette Blount shouldn't be dismissed as a threat to take touches from Bell. Blount signed for clear backup money in free agency, but he was also easily the best running option the New England Patriots had by the end of last season. Look no further than Blount's 166-yard, four-touchdown playoff performance against the Indianapolis Colts in January. The big man can make plays, and he'll be a tempting red-zone option for Haley.
Speaking of which, Bell missed a month with a mid-foot sprain last season, then suffered a nasty-looking concussion on Thanksgiving night in Baltimore. Both injuries are in the rearview, but they warrant mentioning.
On the right, you can watch video of Bell's first pro touchdown. The play offers a nice snapshot of his skill set. Bell makes a Viking defender miss in the backfield, knowingly bounces to the outside, then uses his speed to get to the pylon. Phil Simms, calling the game for CBS, remarked of the play: "Everything you want in a running back we saw that time."
The Steelers plan to lean on the type of fast-paced approach that sparked an offensive surge for the team in the back end of last season. Bell's abilities as a blocker and receiver should keep him on the field consistently.
Even with Blount getting his share, Bell will be a major centerpiece of Pittsburgh's offense in '14. We expect him to clear 300 touches. He could exceed that benchmark easily. A healthy Bell can clear 1,300 rushing yards, 70 receptions and 12 total touchdowns.
That's star production from a potentially special player.