While you're getting your NFL Draft drinking game ready and intensely waiting to see if the Broncos go offensive tackle or linebacker in the first round - or tuning in just to see how many quarterback busts the Cleveland Browns can choose in a decade - there is at least one player you should keep an eye on during this year's draft:
Kenny Bell, wide receiver out of Nebraska.
You should watch for him not because he owns Nebraska's career receiving records for most yards and most catches (he does) or because he's an outstanding blocking wide receiver (he's got mad skills) or because he's a possibility for the Broncos (who knows what Elway will do) or even because he's got the best hair in the college ranks (he totally does).
No, you should pay attention to Bell because he has Orange & Blue blood. Sure it's gotten a little Cornhusker red over the past four years, but he is the son of Ken Bell, a Broncos running back from 1986-89, and nephew to a respected commenter here at MHR. So that gives the former Husker enough Broncos street cred to merit more than a little attention (well, that...and his excellent hair!)
But I'm personally hoping this Boulder native and Fairview High School alum lands on the Broncos squad so we can have one of our own back home.
Flip through images of former #Broncos RB Ken Bell and son, Kenny, a @Huskers WR prospect —> [http://t.co/bqBpJkIliI] pic.twitter.com/kGYLLw4lfp— #BroncosDraft (@Broncos) February 22, 2015
Plus, this 6'1, 197-pound wide receiver definitely deserves attention for his football skills.
Bell holds the all-time record at Nebraska for number of catches (181) as well as career receiving yards (2,689). The standout recently showcased his athleticism at the NFL Combine with a top 10 performance among receivers in the 40 - 4.42 - and a vertical leap of 41.5.
As a Cornhusker, Bell had a 99-yard touchdown on a kickoff return plus owns the longest wide receiver run from scrimmage, which was an 82-yard touchdown. Bell saw the end zone 22 times in his four years, 21 of which were receiving TDs. And his uncle - KRONK-00 on MHR - also reports that two of Bell's catches made ESPN's Top 10 Sports Plays of the Day (at No. 3 and No. 5 respectively).
.@Huskers WR Kenny Bell, son of former #Broncos RB Ken Bell, clocks 4.4 in #NFLCombine 40: [http://t.co/HL9CfiIr5g] pic.twitter.com/D3pR70dgza— #BroncosDraft (@Broncos) February 21, 2015
According to a compilation of 13 draft big boards by MHR's Topher Doll, Bell ranks 126 overall, and he falls between 12th and 26th among all receivers, depending on the board.
No matter the ranking, though, many see the former Husker as an underrated NFL prospect in a rather deep WR draft class. MHR's Christopher Hart noted that Bell has big play ability as a receiver and returner - two things the Broncos could utilize.
"He has extraordinary speed, great hands and the ability to stretch defenses, and he holds most all of Nebraska's receiving records - an impressive feat considering the shuffleboard of quarterbacks he played with during his time with the Cornhuskers," Hart said, adding he believes Bell needs to work on his release off the line plus route running. "His dynamic traits, however, make him a quality fourth- or fifth-round selection and most certainly warrants attention by Denver in those rounds."
The fact that Bell comes from pro DNA doesn't hurt his draftability either. Having his dad's knowledge of football plus insight into life in the NFL ranks can be invaluable, as Kenny Bell told FoxSports.com earlier this month.
"My dad has been very influential and helped me through this process, but also during my college career," Bell said. "He showed me how to prepare and what it takes. I'm lucky I have an unbelievable support system at home."
That support system is a big reason why Nebraska wide receivers coach Rich Fisher said that when the Cornhuskers needed a big play, they turned to Bell - he could handle the pressure.
"The game isn't too big for him," Fisher told FOXSports.com. "The stage is never too big. He never got too high and never too low. That's a sign of confidence and preparation."
Bell's father could certainly offer his son advice on handling those big moments. Though the Broncos' Bell was not a super star, he was a solid kick returner, who was sixth in the NFL for yards per return in 1986 and 10th in the NFL for total yards in kick and punt returns in 1989.
But perhaps more importantly, he was an integral part of one the most iconic moments in Broncos history - The Drive.
During a blustery 1987 AFC Championship game with unpredictable gusts, Bell recovered a wonky kickoff in the waning minutes of the contest against the Cleveland Browns, putting the Broncos on their own two yard-line.
MHR's KRONK-00 recently recalled some details from that kick return:
"That kick was a hot mess. It was coming down the middle, so KB held back for Gene Lang to step up. But it was swimming side to side and knuckling up and down. It kind of froze Gene in his tracks. Near the end the wind slammed it right down into the ground before (Lang) could move up to take it. So KB started to move on it. When it hit, it was like it had eyes. It literally did a "circle bounce" as if it was trying to avoid KB. The ball went right around him, and he finally managed to track it down at the two."
Had Bell not recovered that ball, there would have been no 98-yard drive that ended in a winning touchdown and the Broncos' first Super Bowl berth since 1977.
That kind of awareness on the field by the elder Bell has clearly been handed down to his son.
Part of the knock on Kenny Bell has been his smaller size (sub-200 pounds), but his smart play has often made up for that.
"There's no doubt he's flying under the radar. The draft seems to be a lot about measurables: height, weight, size and speed," Fisher noted, adding that he'd take Bell over any of the other wide receivers in the 2015 class, which is pretty stacked with the likes of Alabama's Amari Cooper, West Virginia's Kevin White and Louisville's DeVante Parker.
But Bell has the right attitude, telling FoxSports.com he's looking forward to getting to a camp and "making a team."
"I can only control what I can control, and that's my attitude and my effort," he said. "I'm going to have a great attitude and give all my effort."
That would be enough for Fisher to take Bell if he were an NFL coach.
"But I would take Kenny Bell over any of those guys," Fisher said. "He can run by you, but he can also block you at the point of attack on the perimeter. That's a tough combination, especially when it comes to play action."
If that endorsement - along with his impressive on-field production plus football pedigree - isn't enough, perhaps this "scouting report" from SBNation's scouting report generator will help: