Steelers All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell has certainly outplayed his 2013 draft status.
Bell, drafted in the second round and No. 48 overall by the Steelers out of Michigan State, was the first offensive player drafted in ESPN's re-draft. New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, drafted No.13 overall two years ago, was the first player selected. Richardson recorded eight sacks last season and was named to his first Pro Bowl.
Behind Bell at No.3 was Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who has tallied 15.5 sacks over his first two seasons. Ansah was the fifth overall pick taken in the '13 Draft. Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, the 52nd overall pick in 2013, rounded out the top-five of the re-draft.
The only other offensive player drafted in the top-five of the re-draft was Packers running back Eddie Lacy with the No.4 overall pick. The Steelers had the chance to draft Lacy 2013 but instead went with Bell, leaving the Packers free to draft Lacy nine spots later with the 61st pick.
Lacy had the more impressive rookie season, rushing for nearly 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns while pulling down 35 catches and being selected to the Pro Bowl. While Lacy had another solid year in 2014, Bell put together one of the finest seasons by any running back over the last decade. Bell finished second in the NFL with 1,361 yards while improving his yards per carry average from 3.5 yards in '13 to 4.7. Bell did nearly as much damage as a receiver, pulling in 83 catches for 854 yards and three scores while being named an All-Pro.
The impact both Bell and Lacy have had on their respective teams is easy to see. Now armed with a strong running game to balance his offense, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Lacy helped key Green Bay's run to the NFC Championship game in 2014. And after consecutive 8-8 seasons, Bell's ascension, as arguably the best back in the NFL, catapulted Pittsburgh to the AFC North Division championship.
Perhaps ESPN's re-draft position of Bell and Lacy will help dispel the recent notion that running backs' value have diminished in today's NFL. While the passing game has a more significant place in the NFL as opposed to 40 years ago, Bell and Lacy are prime examples of what having a premier, duel-threat running back can do for an offense and team.