Asked to describe the talents of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, former San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig said he sees similarities between Bell and Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton.
Speaking to Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report, Craig couldn’t quite put his finger on who Bell reminds him of most. The two-time Pro Bowl selection runs between the tackles like a workhorse back, yet lines up at wide receiver like a third-down or pass-catching specialist. There have been few players in NFL history quite like him.
Just like there were few like Payton, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“He’s a mixture of everybody,” Craig says. “Even some Walter Payton. Everybody.”
Bell truly is as much a mix of every style running back imaginable that there has been in a long time, perhaps since Payton retired as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher in 1987. The Steelers back runs with both power and burst, patience and also suddenness, and can make opponents miss or run right through them. Then, he’ll catch a pass out of the backfield or run a route from the slot or outside the numbers as if he were an actual receiver, because with his size and speed, he might as well be.
It’s no wonder Craig would make a comparison few others dare would. Yet as a four-time Pro Bowl selection who helped the 49ers win three Super Bowls with a skill set not entirely dissimilar to Bell’s, he’s in some position to make such bold statements.
Bell is living up to just about any comparison people want to make, but there are still some where people won’t necessarily go. Payton was one of them, and Craig just went there.