Combine Interview Runs, Jumps Over Tacklers

In our latest exclusive from the Scouting Combine, the Packers met with a powerful running back who was the national leader in yards after contact. Adding him would provide the counterpunch to impressive DuJuan Harris.

Le'Veon Bell was a two-star recruit coming out of Madison High School in Groveport, Ohio.

The former Michigan State star is not highly regarded entering the NFL Draft, either, despite a prolific season in which he rushed for 1,793 yards and was named an honorable mention on the All-American team.

"It always fuels me, even out of high school, when people said I couldn't play at Michigan State," Bell said at the Scouting Combine. "That always fueled me and drove me and made me that much better. Now that it's happening again, I'll just keep that edge on me and keep having that grind. That's what I'm going to do – go out and prove people wrong."

At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, he fits the mold of the running back the Green Bay Packers covet. Running back may be a position of need as they look for a big, power back as a complement to late-season standout DuJuan Harris. Ryan Grant and Cedric Benson are free agents, James Starks can't stay healthy, Alex Green fell off the radar as he lacked the explosion in coming back from a torn ACL sustained in 2011, and Brandon Saine tore his ACL in Week 6.

So, it's no surprise that Bell, who is considered a midround prospect, had a formal interview with the Packers at the Scouting Combine, according to a source.

Le'Veon Bell hurdles Notre Dame's Zeke Motta.
Mike Carter - USA Today Sports
Bell entered the draft following a prodigious junior season. Bell and Wisconsin's record-setting Montee Ball were the Big Ten's first-team running backs, but it was Bell who won the conference rushing title with 137.92 yards per game. According to longtime NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas, Bell led the nation with 922 rushing yards after contact. He can also factor in the passing game, with 35 receptions in 2011 and 32 more in 2012.

"I think I can always be in the game, whether it's first-and-10 or third-and-10 or third-and-1," Bell said. "I'm a big guy, I'm a swifty, I make guys miss in the open field, but I can get tough yardage banging inside."

Bell had a whopping 382 carries in 2012 — fourth-most in Big Ten history — but should have plenty of tread on his tires. Splitting time with Edwin Baker the previous two seasons, Bell had 182 attempts in 2011 and 107 in 2010.

Bell has the power to run over people but the athletic ability to jump over them, as he showed in the opening game against Boise State and a few weeks later against Notre Dame. He runs with vision and with good pad level, a style reminiscent of former Falcons star Michael Turner.

"That always happens on instincts," Bell said of hurdling defenders. "I don't ever think about doing it. It just kind of happens. My mom gets more worried about it than I do."

Getting to the NFL has been a lifelong dream for Bell, who said he declared a year early to help his family's financial situation.

"I think about it every day," Bell said. "It's something I've always dreamed about since I was little. It's crazy. My aunt has this video when I was 6 years old – with no teeth or nothin' — and I tell my mom and my aunt that I'm going to the NFL. It was crazy that she's still got that video, and once I saw it I was like, ‘You know that's crazy.'"

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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