February 17, 2010
On Monday, we told you the story of Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who won't be going to the scouting combine despite a relatively high profile and a great end to his senior season. Today, we're going to introduce you to a kid who will likely be a mid-round draft pick, and odds are you've never heard of him.
Running back Joique Bell of Wayne State, a Division II school in Detroit, took a chance on a smaller school over bigger local schools like Michigan and Michigan State because they saw him as a safety, and Bell wanted to be a running back. In retrospect, Bell made the right positional choice -- factor in his return totals, and he's top ten in NCAA total yardage no matter the school.
Of course, that's the question: How do we look at Bell's NFL potential when all we have are his numbers against giants like Ferris State, Mercyhurst, Saginaw Valley and Findlay? No offense against those fine schools, or Wayne State itself, but it's generally tough to get a sense how a kid will do against the Baltimore Ravens if he's been facing players whose college careers will be the end of their football days.
That's where the Senior Bowl comes in. After he gained over 2,000 yards in each of his last two seasons, Bell got an invitation to Mobile, Ala., and immediately impressed the pro coaches, scouts and personnel people in attendance. After the third day of Senior Bowl practice, Ravens running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery told the Detroit Free Press that Bell had been, "as offensive skill guys [go], the most impressive guy."
"You see if a guy can make a guy miss when he's in the hole," Montgomery continued. "What I saw ... four times when he had the ball, he was able to front up a guy right in the hole and shake him and get out of there."
What I look for with a running back going up against "inferior" competition is the ability to get outside and make things happen in the open field. Looking at Bell's highlight video eased my mind right off the bat, when he took a zone slide right and jumped over a defender. You can see the inside power and outside speed, and you begin to understand why, despite his small-school pedigree, Bell is considered a mid-round prospect.
With a good combine, his stock could rise even higher, which makes Joique Bell a name to watch when things get rolling next week.
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