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Bell and Sims Go Pro

Jan 03, 2013 Adam Ruff | View Comments

The rumors had been swirling all season long. Would running back Le'Veon Bell and tight end Dion Sims be playing their final season in East Lansing?

Well, we finally got our answer on both players, via our favorite social media outlet, Twitter. Here are the tweets which the pair sent out right around midday on Thursday.

While those losses are big losses for the program, I believe it's the right move for both players.

For Le'Veon, how could you possibly put another 350-plus carries on your body and expect to have a long NFL career? ESPN's Todd McShay has Bell ranked as the second rated draft eligible back, while CBS Sports has Bell ranked as the 11th best running back in the 2013 NFL class (Huh?).

While speed is the the biggest factor (Le'Veon runs around 4.6 in the 40), his durability and versatility will be important factors for NFL teams. Plus, Le'Veon can push the pile, spin out of tackles and deliver devastating stiff arms. If I were Bell, I'd give up on leaping defenders in the NFL, despite how impressive his three this season were.

I envision Bell as a 3rd down type of NFL back, with the ability to pass block in obvious passing downs and be a reliable safety valve. His smarts will help him hit the field as a rookie and if he gets his chance due to injury or simply gets drafted into the right situation, he'll make that team proud.

All told, Le'Veon will go down as one of the top backs in MSU history (you can debate where he ranks). He finished 2012 with 1,793 yards (2nd all time in a single season), 12 touchdowns, eight, 100-yard games and three, 200-yard performances on the season, despite having an injury depleted offensive line.

Overall, Bell finishes his career ranked 7th all time in rushing with 3,346 yards, which leaves him behind TJ Duckett and Sederick Irvin for career yardage by 3-year backs. His 33 rushing touchdowns puts him 6th on the all-time list.

Then there's Dion Sims, the tight end who gave us glimpses of brilliance, yet left a lot to be desired because of injury (played with broken hand in 2011, ankle injury in '12) and - quite simply - a lack of throwing the ball his direction.

In my mind, he has all of the tools to be an Antonio Gates type of player at the next level thanks to his speed, hands, build, etc. (Note: I'm not saying he'll have the career of an Antonio Gates, but has a similar game). Plus, Dion played basketball as well...granted, that experiment last about two or three weeks (My memory is rusty).

He finished his career with 59 career catches, 707 yards and 8 touchdowns. 28 of his 36 receptions this year resulted in a first down or touchdown.

I think both of these players have the opportunity to be second day draft picks (rounds 2 or 3), who will be quality picks. I also believe Sims will be drafted higher.

While it's hard for some MSU fans to accept the fact that these guys are making the correct choices for their future, it's important to remember that the early departures are a good sign of a program on the rise.

Elite programs send players to the NFL on a regular basis. Many players leave early. It's just a fact.

Despite being a 7-6 team this year, these early departures are good signs for the program as well.