Michigan State Football: Ranking the 3 best current Spartans in the NFL

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Michigan State football
Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State football (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images) /

2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

For a few years, Le’Veon Bell was the best running back in the NFL. But, like Jack Conklin, Bell came to MSU under-recruited and underrated.

Bell began his career in East Lansing as the No. 1,714 overall ranked player in the nation, the 124th-ranked running back and the 115th ranked player in the state of Ohio. He was listed as a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports.

His freshman year was an impressive one, with 107 rushing attempts, 605 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games. He bumped up those numbers to 182-948-13 in his sophomore year. He also had 267 receiving yards.

The talented rusher cemented himself as one of the best backs in MSU history in his junior season, with 382 carries, an eye-popping 1,793 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He finished his MSU career with 3,877 all-purpose yards and 34 total touchdowns. He carried the Spartans in 2012 and was named the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl MVP after a 32-carry, 145-yard and one-touchdown game.

Bell forwent his senior season and entered the NFL draft in 2013. He was selected in the second round with the 48th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He quickly became the feature back in Pittsburgh and was one of the affectionately nicknamed “Killer Bs'” with Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger.

The best season of his NFL career came in 2017, when he rushed a league leading 321 times for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns while also catching 85 passes for 655 yards and two scores. Bell is known for his patience in the backfield, waiting for a running lane to open up and being able to shift defenders and dodge tackles.

Le’Veon signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the New York Jets in 2019 after sitting out the 2018 season, unhappy with contract negotiations with the Steelers. In his first year back wearing green and white, Bell didn’t look like his regular self, only rushing 245 times for 789 yards and three touchdowns while catching 66 passes for 461 yards and just one touchdown.

If Jets head coach — and MSU alum — Adam Gase can figure out how to use Bell correctly, he can have a huge bounce-back season and look like the Le’Veon of old.