Steelers' Anthony McFarland Thinks Le'Veon Bell Has 'Always' Been NFL's Best RB

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 9, 2020

Maryland running back Anthony McFarland Jr. (5) looks on prior to an NCAA college football game against Nebraska, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Will Newton)
Will Newton/Associated Press

The newest running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers is doing his best to represent one of the franchise's most iconic rushers. 

Anthony McFarland Jr., who the Steelers drafted in the fourth round last month, will wear No. 26 on his jersey in honor of Le'Veon Bell

The Maryland product told ESPN's Brooke Pryor he believes Bell has "always been" the best running back in the league to him and McFarland continues to idolize his play. 

Brooke Pryor @bepryor

McFarland on wearing 26, says he wanted 25 but it was taken: I've always been a big fan of Le'Veon Bell. He's always been the best RB in the league to me. I didn't want people to think I wanted to be better than Le'Veon. If anything, it's that I look up to him and idolize him."

"I didn't want people to think I wanted to be better than Le'Veon," McFarland said. "If anything, it's that I look up to him and idolize him."

Over five seasons in Pittsburgh, Bell rushed for more than 1,200 yards three times, averaging 4.3 yards per carry while wearing the black and yellow. His signature stutter-step movement behind the line of scrimmage allowed him to wait for holes to open up in the offensive line, allowing him to flash his speed for big gains. 

After sitting out the 2018 season before hitting free agency, Bell signed with the New York Jets for four years, $52.5 million and presented Pittsburgh with the need for a replacement. 

James Conner has held down that role so far, but the addition of McFarland at the position should give the Steelers a bit more breathing room. 

At the NFL Scouting Combine, league analyst Lance Zierlein noted the Terrapins alum "accelerates into contact behind pads" with the "agility to sidestep foot traffic." Those two traits should help remind Steelers fans of what Bell was able to do on handoffs.

In two seasons at Maryland, McFarland rushed for 1,648 yards and 12 touchdowns, with ankle injuries hampering his final season in 2019. 

As long as he's able to stay healthy, he'll have an opportunity to follow in his idol's footsteps.