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Bell Hoping Name Is Called in Draft

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Offensive lineman says he thinks he’ll be late-round NFL draft pick

Regarding his NFL Draft prospects, Byron Bell likes what he’s hearing.

He hopes that trend continues into the weekend.

The former Lobo offensive tackle said he’s optimistic he’ll hear his name called in the later stages of the draft, which begins tonight, continues Friday and concludes Saturday.

“I’ve done everything I can do,” Bell said Wednesday. “I’ve met with the teams. I’ve talked to just about everybody. I’ve worked out for them, (done) pro days, I did the (Texas vs. the Nation) all-star game, and it all led up to this.

“Hopefully, some good, positive feedback will come out of all I’ve done.”

Bell believes he’ll be drafted Saturday, somewhere in rounds five through seven. But if he doesn’t hear his name, he said, “It’s not the end of the world. … If my name doesn’t come off the board or if it does, I still have to get to a team and work hard to make the 52-man roster. It’s just one steppingstone to get to where I want to be.”

Bell, a 6-foot-5, 340-pounder from Greenville, Texas, appears to be the only 2010 Lobo senior with realistic hopes to be drafted. Several others, like offensive guard Karlin Givens, will be hoping to sign with an NFL team as a free agent.

At UNM’s Pro Day workout March 24, with scouts from five NFL teams in attendance, Givens bench-pressed 225 pounds 30 times in succession. That would have ranked him first among offensive guards at the NFL Combine, had he been invited.

“My agent (Brett Hickman of Sports Management Worldwide) said if I don’t get drafted I’ve got a pretty good shot at getting a free-agent deal,” Givens said. “It’s all about what team I fit with their schemes and system the best.”

Four other Lobo seniors — wide receiver Bryant Williams, offensive tackle Maurice Mears, defensive tackle Peter Gardner and wide receiver Chris Hernandez — participated in UNM’s Pro Day.

Bell was an honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference selection as a senior, but UNM coach Mike Locksley said he felt Bell was a victim of UNM’s 1-11 season and deserved better.

Bell missed some of his target numbers at UNM’s Pro Day, bench-pressing 225 pounds only 20 times and running the 40-yard dash in 5.35 seconds. But he has had private workouts with Carolina and Oakland, and he visited Carolina. There, he was interviewed by Panthers assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown, who played 20 years as an offensive lineman in the NFL.

“(Brown) gave me a lot of feedback,” Bell told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Little things I need to work on, like hand placement and leverage. And he put me through a lot of guard drills, so maybe that’s where (the Panthers are) looking to put me at.”

Bell told the Chronicle he also got good feedback from the Raiders, who plan to mount a concerted running attack under new coach Hue Jackson.

“The power game — that’s me,” Bell told the Chronicle. “I love to get in the trenches and just run the football. I take pride in getting my nose in there and pushing people backward.”

Being interviewed by the Chronicle for that newspaper’s Raiders blog, Bell said, was an encouraging sign in itself.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” he said, “and hopefully good things will come.”

Bell participated in 14 plays as a Lobo freshman in 2007, which essentially cost him a year of eligibility. A petition for an extra year was denied and his appeal rejected by the Mountain West Conference.

He started for the Lobos from 2008-10.

— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal