Bell slowly struts stuff for NFL scouts

Between the noise of planes taking off at nearby McCarran International Airport and the more low-key but constant chatter from 35 to 40 NFL scouts, Rebel Park was no library on Monday.

That is until Beau Bell squatted into position to run his second 40-yard dash. Then the UNLV practice fields became eerily silent.

The former UNLV star linebacker took off, and nearly five seconds later, stopwatches clicked almost in unison.

UNLV strength coach John Grieco, who oversaw Bell’s workout, said both 40-yard dashes were clocked at 4.9.

“His 40 was disappointing,” said Joe Flanagan, Bell’s agent. “He plays faster than that 40. He’s been timing in the 4.7s while he’s been training. When you turn on the film, you can see he’s a weapon and he flies around the field.

“I just think he’s not built to be a sprinter. He’s not a track star; he’s a football player. When there’s a guy running with the ball and they say go chase him down, he’s running a 4.6.”

Bell agreed his most important work occurred on Saturdays. He was the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season after finishing with 126 tackles, five forced fumbles and four interceptions.

“I really came in here knowing (scouts have) seen me play,” Bell said. “They know what I’m capable of, and I just appreciate them coming out here and working me out. I did my best out here, and they know that.”

Flanagan attributed the slow 40 time to Bell’s left knee injury suffered in late January. Instead of preparing for the late-February NFL scouting combine and the UNLV pro day almost four weeks ago, Bell has been rehabilitating.

Flanagan was more pleased with Bell’s work in the short shuttle (4.5 seconds) and three-cone run (7.3).

“His times were really good in the agility drills, which is one thing people were concerned about — his change of direction,” Flanagan said.

Perhaps Bell’s best moments came when he dropped back in coverage to catch passes. He caught every ball, twice reaching behind for grabs and once diving to the ground.

Sporting News recently listed Bell as the No. 1 inside linebacker prospect. Flanagan said Bell (6 feet 2 inches, 248 pounds) is expected to go anywhere from the second to the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

The number of scouts who made the trip for this workout shows there is considerable interest. About a dozen watched cornerback Eric Wright in last year’s UNLV pro day.

But Wright, who was a second-round draft choice by the Cleveland Browns, had participated in all the combine drills and excelled. This was the scouts’ first opportunity to watch Bell run since the injury prevented him participating in timing tests at the combine and prompted him to forgo pro day altogether.

“I did all this work all the way through January, and then I get hurt and I can’t do that,” Bell said. “That was real frustrating.”

Bell will visit seven NFL clubs in coming weeks for personal interviews, beginning with the Browns. Flanagan said the greatest interest comes from clubs looking at Bell at inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

After the interviews, it’s a matter of waiting for the draft, which is April 26 and 27. Bell will watch it with his family in Tustin, Calif.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2914.

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