"Beau runs to the football very well and hustles on every play," said UNLV linebackers coach Dennis Therrell. "He led our team with four interceptions last year, which is impressive for a linebacker. Covering running backs and tight ends is no problem for him. I think he'll make a fine pro."
We knew our first pick would focus on the defensive side of the ball. Most of us thought it would be a cornerback or an outside linebacker. Instead, we got inside linebacker Beau Bell from UNLV. When the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year was still on the board though, the Browns were obviously intrigued enough by his gameplay to trade up and select him.
If you're a team that does not have a single draft pick in the first three rounds, wait hours and hours and then pull a deal off when you're only 20 picks away, that shows there was a serious purpose to the deal: Bell is going to play this year.
With D'Qwell Jackson receiving more favorable reviews from the staff than Andra Davis, it would seem as though Bell will be in a heated race with the veteran linebacker heading into training camp and leading up to the regular season. After all, Davis hasn't exactly done anything (except in the snow bowl versus Buffalo last season) to look like a quality starter with the Browns.
The Browns originally met with Bell on April 3. Teams are allowed to have 20 players visit their facility, and part of the team's interest in Bell certainly came from when the coaching staff evaluated cornerback Eric Wright last season. Wright, whom the Browns also traded up for, played for UNLV too.
"This guy is kind of a hammer type hitter," said Phil Savage, Browns general manager. "If you saw some of his highlights, he knows how to finish. He brings some explosion at the end of plays. We feel like he's a powerful tackler."
Savage also spoke on the "early" plans of working Bell into the mix of things by placing him on special teams and entering him into a rotation between Jackson, Davis, and Leon Williams. That's already more duties than veteran Chaun Thompson seemed to have with the Browns last season.
Initially, I wanted the Browns to find an outside linebacker in the draft. When you look at things from a wider perspective though, Kamerion Wimbley and Jackson already had their linebacker jobs clinched. And, if finally healthy, I don't think there would be too many qualms about starting Antwan Peek. When you look at the final position, I would not have been too confident between Davis or Williams. While Williams still has move to prove, neither player has overly shined during their stay. That doesn't mean Bell is the second coming of Lawrence Taylor compared to them, but the pick certainly seems to be worth the shot without too much investment.
(Savage gets credit for addressing a need and not making a bone-headed decision for one of the few picks the Browns had in their arsenal. However, I still would've favored drafting a cornerback or using the pick to acquire Fabian Washington instead, as rumored. Also, Savage did have to use a third-round pick in 2009 to get Bell. Remember, the Browns were able to get a proven player, Shaun Rogers, for our 2008 third-round pick.
Video Highlights: Beau Bell