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Blake Bell believes position switch will lead to NFL future

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Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
Oklahoma's Blake Bell believes his switch from quarterback to tight end will land him in the NFL.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A year ago at this time, Oklahoma's Blake Bell was preparing to make the move from quarterback to tight end for his senior season. This year, he is preparing for a future that easily could include the NFL.


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Bell (6-foot-6, 260 pounds) will play Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game (4 p.m. ET, NFL Network), and he was a closely scrutinized prospect during the week of practices leading up to the game.

Date: Saturday, Jan. 17
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network


2015 NFL Draft coverage:

Bell, from Wichita, Kan., was a consensus national top-75 player and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2010 recruiting class. (Interestingly, a Rivals.com scouting report said Bell "could be mistaken for a tight end if you did not know he was a quarterback.") He redshirted that fall, then saw time as a backup quarterback in 2011 and '12, becoming known as the "Belldozer" for his brutish running style in short-yardage and goal-line situations. He became the starter early in the 2013 season after Trevor Knight was injured but struggled as a passer. Bell missed time late in the season with an injury, and when Knight led OU to a Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama, the coaches made the decision to move Bell to tight end.

He says he quickly decided that he could get to the NFL at his new position. "Right away, I put it in my mind that I could play in the NFL" as a tight end, he said after practice Wednesday.

He says he feels he improved every game this season and looked at ease in position drills during practice this week. He said he still needs technique work. Bell calls himself "a willing blocker, a competent blocker," but said he knows he must improve in that facet of the game.

Bell had 16 receptions for 214 yards and four TDs this season for a Sooners team that struggled to consistently throw the ball. He moves well for a guy who weighs 260 pounds and has good hands. NFL Media analyst Charles Davis said he thought Bell's background as a quarterback means he will be able to quickly pick up any offense and that "he runs a route with a quarterback's eyes." Bell agrees, saying his previous life as a quarterback helps him as a receiver: "Absolutely it helps; you can see different coverages," which makes it easier to understand where to go to be open.

Bell is one of two tight ends on the West squad and should see a lot of time Saturday; the 2015 draft's tight end class is not strong and he looks to be a third-day prospect.


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He is one of two players in the game who has made the switch from quarterback to another position in the past year; the other is East wide receiver Devin Gardner, who was Michigan's starting quarterback this season but began the position transition in December. Coincidentally, Gardner also was a consensus national top-75 prospect and was the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 2010 class.

Bell said he and Gardner attended some of the same camps as high school quarterbacks, and that they had talked earlier in the week -- not about making the position switch but just to reminisce.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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