Berea Report: Bell of the Ball

The Browns did as expected, undramatically adding defense and depth. Fred Greetham reports on the team's status from Berea, where Phil Savage seemed pleased with the selection of LB Beau Bell (pictured)

BEREA - Phil Savage's words prior to the draft proved to be true.

Savage said it was highly unlikely the Browns would be able to get back into the first day of the draft and he was right.

However, Savage was able to swing a couple of trades and get a couple of players the team wanted.

The theme was ‘hurry up and wait' at Browns headquarters in Berea regarding the 2008 NFL Draft. After trading away their top three picks prior to the draft, the Browns first scheduled selection was in the fourth-round (122nd overall).

However, Savage hooked up with Dallas' Jerry Jones -- his trade partner of a year ago – to move up 18 spots to select inside linebacker Beau Bell from UNLV. He then traded next year's third-round choice to Dallas to move up to 111 and select tight end Martin Rucker from Missouri.

The Browns traded up to the top of the fourth round (104th overall) to get Bell, who had 126 tackles last season.  The Browns gave up their fourth- and fifth-selections in this year's draft (122 and 155).

"We've been trying to upgrade our front seven the whole off season," Savage said. "To add Beau Bell, we feel we could do that. He's a finisher. Coming out of the fall, we thought we had few players on both sides of the ball we thought might be available in the second-round  and Bell was one of them."

Savage said he feels that Bell will bring a physical toughness to the linebacker corps.

"I think it remains to be seen, but I think he will come in and help on special teams, right away," Savage said. "But, he's going to bring a physical presence to our special teams. He's a hammer and will bring us a dimension to our team that we currently don't have."

Bell was ecstatic when he learned he would be joining the Browns.

"I'm really looking forward to playing for this team," Bell said.

Bell was injured during practice at the Senior Bowl and felt he was unable to perform at the combine and not at 100 percent at his pro day. He ran a 4.9 in the 40-yard dash, but has been timed at 4.7 when healthy.

"I had a bone bruise on my left knee and it set me back a little bit," Bell said.  "I only had a couple of weeks to train, but I'm glad it happened because it gave me a chance to be a Browns player."

Bell is a very physical player and feels he can meet a need for the Browns.

 "I play really physical at the point of attack," he said. "I like to run around and hit people, but at the same time, stay under control and do what has to be done."

Bell was very versatile in college, playing safety, outside and inside linebacker and defensive end on the defensive side of the ball. He also played tailback and fullback on offense.

 He's being projected to play inside with the Browns where he'll most likely compete with Andra Davis, D'Qwell Jackson, Kris Griffin and Leon Williams for playing time.

"I played a couple of times on the inside in college, but I think playing inside can really bring my style of play into view."

Bell caught the Browns attention last year when they were scouting Eric Wright, whom they also traded up to get. Bell said he's talked with Wright.

"He said he loves it (in Cleveland)," Bell said. "He told me that it's cold out, but it's a team on the rise."

The Browns brought Bell in for a visit prior to the draft and he felt the Browns were pretty interested in nabbing him.

"I appreciate (the Browns drafting me," he said. "I have a lot of emotions running through me right now and (the Browns) told me if I was still around, they would be interested in getting me. It's really a blessing to be on this team."

Bell, (6-2, 250 pounds) played 41 games and totaled 320 tackles with 27 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in his four seasons.  He also had four interceptions. His career totals in tackles are second on the career list in school history. Bell was second-team All-American by The NFL Draft Report and an All-Mountain West Conference first team choice and the conference's Defensive Player of the Year.

Bell missed the final four games of his junior season after suffering a left ankle sprain. At the time of his injury, Bell was leading the conference in tackles and still finished second on the team with 76 tackles.


Savage Reasons: Savage said the Browns went into the third-round willing to part with next year's third pick if they could get one of the players they wanted in the fourth round and that was the case.

"We were waiting to see how the third-and fourth-round was developing," Savage said. "To upgrade the front seven and based on what our grades were, we thought if a team was willing to take next year's third we could get a player like Martin Rucker."

Savage said both Bell and Rucker were players the Browns had rated in the second- to third-round range.

"In both players' cases, their status dropped, but in our eyes they really didn't," Savage said.  "Beau and Martin were in a group clearly ahead of the other players.

 "We had those two very high on our boards," he said. "We felt content to let it play out. We felt we had spent so much time on the fourth-round that we would be willing to trade next year's third pick."

Re-Do with K2: Savage was asked if there was any progress with re-negotiating TE Kellen Winslow's contract.

"We've had a few conversations and have kept open lines of communications," Savage said. "You're talking about a player with three years remaining on his contract."

On Phil's Deal: Savage said his contract extension is most likely going to be official within the next few weeks.

"We have a wink and a hand shake but it will probably get finalized in the next week or so," Savage said.

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