Bell selected by Tampa Bay in 5th round
After ending his collegiate career as the all-time leading receiver in Nebraska history, Kenny Bell officially took the next step in his football career on Saturday afternoon.
Though he had to wait until the third day of the 2015 NFL Draft to hear his name called, Bell was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 162nd overall pick in the fifth round.
"This is a kid who's a real good football player," NFL Network analyst Solomon Wilcots said. "He's going to play with some really good receivers in Tampa, and he's going to play with a really good quarterback in (No. 1 overall pick) Jameis Winston. But you talk about Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Louis Murphy - you think he's going to have to play some special teams? Absolutely. It's going to be hard to get on the field with all those talented receivers."
A fan favorite at Nebraska the past few years, Bell joins the Buccaneers as one of the most productive Husker wide receivers ever. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound native of Boulder, Colo., stands as NU's record holder for both career receptions (181) and career receiving yards (2,689).
Though his numbers went down a bit during his senior year last season, he still led the team with 47 catches for 788 yards, good for an average of 16.8 yards per catch, along with six touchdowns. That production was good enough to make the first player in program history to record four-straight 400-yard receiving seasons and three-straight seasons with at least 30 receptions.
It wasn't just Bell's play on the field that that made him such a popular player with Nebraska fans. His trademark afro haircut and confident persona with the media made him one of the faces team, and his leadership in the locker room helped him be voted one of NU's team captains in 2014.
Bell was invited to the 2015 NFL Combine in Indianapolis along with Husker teammates Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory, who were both selected in the second round on Friday. He posted solid testing numbers with a 4.42 40-yard dash and a 41.5-inch vertical jump, which helped gain some more attention from NFL scouts.
Bell raised his stock even further during Nebraska's Pro Day back in March by posting a 4.37 40. He also was able to add nearly 20 pounds of muscle after his weight dropped down under 180 pounds by the end of last season. He weighed in at the Combine at 197.
That hard work over the past five months ended up paying off in a big way for Bell, as he now has a chance to follow in the footsteps of his father, Ken Bell, who played for the Denver Broncos from 1986-89.
"No nerves," Bell said back in March about his emotions leading up to the draft. "Maybe when I get to camp and stuff, but as far as draft day, you shouldn't be nervous about your biggest dream coming true… I'm anxious. It's been a long road, and so I'm really looking forward to it. But I'm not nervous at all."
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