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2011 NFL Draft Prospects: New Mexico's Byron Bell

Often overlooked in the limelight of the more flashy football teams, the New Mexico Lobos has a player of its own who could easily end hearing his name being called during the NFL draft this week.  That player is Bryon Bell, a 6' 5" 340 lb behemoth OT out of Greenville, Texas.  After missing most of his 2007 freshman season with a knee injury, Bell started all 12 games for the Lobos at right tackle in 2008 and was named an honorable mention Freshman All-American.

This past season Bell was selected All-Mountain West Honorable Mention for 2010 by the MWC head coaches and media panel.   He recorded over 100 knockdown blocks on the year with 10 or more of those knockdowns put up in six games to show why in many circles he is regarded as one of the best tackles in the nation.  On Pro Day Bell posted a 30 1/2 inch vertical leap and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.35 seconds.   That workout was watched by five teams who are interested: the New York Jets, the Oakland Raiders, the New Orleans Saints, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Indianapolis Colts. 

Bell is not without his flaws.  He was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and there has been questions about his maturity following an arrest and brief suspension by the Lobos for his involvement in a June 2009 off-campus altercation.  Questions about character are hard to overcome for a recruit and the NFL has increasingly shown a reluctance to draft a player who could prove to be an embarrassment for the team down the road.  But now that Bell is more mature at age 22, maybe that issue is behind him.  At least two professional teams seem willing to think so.  Before his Pro Day debut, Bell gave a private workout to the Indianapolis Colts.  Also in early in March the Miami Dolphins showed a pre-draft interest in the New Mexico lineman,  according to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. 

Big Lead Sports has Bell projected to go in the sixth round and also has him going to the Tampa Bay Buck as a seventh round pick in their mock draft.   Whoever picks Byron Bell, all MWC fans will be hoping he gets a chance.

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The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, April 28th and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare for it - NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it all out at SB Nation's NFL Hub, our NFL Draft blog Mocking the Draft and of course here on this site for Mountain West draft news.