Vonn Bell Declares for 2016 NFL Draft: Latest Comments and Reaction

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2016

Ohio State safety Vonn Bell plays against Maryland in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

Ohio State safety Vonn Bell elected Tuesday to forgo his final collegiate season and enter the 2016 NFL draft, per Bill Landis of Cleveland.com.

Landis pointed out the school made the announcement and that Bell is the ninth Buckeyes underclassman and the sixth from the 2013 recruiting class to enter the draft this offseason.

Austin Ward of ESPN.com passed along the safety’s comments:

According to Sports-Reference.com, Bell finished his career with 175 total tackles, nine interceptions, 15 passes defended, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown. He led the Big Ten with six picks in 2014 alone and was one of the anchors of a secondary that finished 12th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game this year and 17th last year.

He was named a first-team All-American in 2015 by the Associated Press and helped the Buckeyes win the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship in 2014 and 12 games and the Fiesta Bowl this season. 

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports was particularly impressed with Bell’s ability to lead the defense in Ohio State’s incredible three-game run to the national title against the three Heisman Trophy finalists:

Bell was a special player in Columbus because of his ability to fill lanes, make sure tackles and attack opposing rushing attacks with speed and physicality while also staying with tight ends and receivers in the passing game. He consistently dished out punishment when pass-catchers dared to cross the middle and was a ball hawk who set the tone in a handful of critical games, as Feldman pointed out.

Dane Brugler of CBS Sports projected Bell as a second-round pick and highlighted some of his NFL-ready skill sets:

On film, Bell showcases NFL range and vision, seeing plays unfold quickly with the reactive athleticism to read his keys and explode to the contact point.

Bell has the hips and footwork to shadow receivers and that versatility is why he is so valuable to the Ohio State defense (and what makes him such an attractive NFL prospect).

The Buckeyes will likely remain among college football’s elite in 2016 and beyond because of head coach Urban Meyer’s recruiting ability (hence, the six early entrants from the 2013 class) and the tradition in place, but they will need a secondary rebuild. Fellow safety Tyvis Powell and cornerback Eli Apple were also among the nine early-entry players from Ohio State.

Safeties such as Erick Smith, Damon Webb and Malik Hooker will likely be asked to shoulder more of the load as an Ohio State team that won 50 games the past four years attempts to make another run at the College Football Playoff.