Vonn Bell is counting down the days. Not only will his inevitable selection early in the 2016 NFL Draft fulfill a dream to play professional football, but it will also bring about the end of a nearly year-long process.
"It's all been a long process," says Bell. "I haven't been out of it since last July."
Not every prospect who has endured the same grueling process â the workouts, the drills, the interviews, the medical checks â will fare as well as Bell. The Ohio State safety is considered one of the top players at his position and has a real chance to be taken within the first round on Thursday. Mel Kiper mocked Bell to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 28 overall in his latest round of guesses, a soid match for a team in need at secondary.
Bell said he is aware of the Chiefs' potential need at safety given the loss of Husain Abdullah to retirement and Tyvon Branch to free agency. The Chiefs used the franchise tag on Eric Berry, and Ron Parker is just entering the second year of a five-year contract signed last year. However, the Chiefs could use a young impact player at safety in a secondary that also lost cornerback Sean Smith. He also said he enjoyed a "good visit" with them at the NFL Combine, but he hasn't spoken with them since.
"I'd love it if I could go to work for Kansas City," said Bell.
During these last days of waiting, Bell said he's doing his best to get completely healthy. He's been hampered in the pre-draft season, which he hopes doesn't affect his draft stock too much.
"I've been with the trainers a lot to make sure my body is healthy, make sure everything is operating right," says Bell of his daily regimen pre-draft. "I did have a hamstring problem during the whole draft prep â the combine and the pro day. So I'm doing what I can to be a-okay for rookie training camp. I'm just investing in my body and going through team visits and team workouts."
Despite the injury, Bell remains very confident in his ability to make an instant impact at the pro level. It's the byproduct of having already played on an elite level for the last few years, from his inclusion on the Under Armour All-American game in 2013 to winning a national title with the Buckeyes to his standout junior season in 2015.
Bell had 65 tackles last year with 9 passes defended and two interceptions. He was named first team All-Big Ten, and came up big in the season's biggest contests, including an interception against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Mike Mayock has Bell ranked just behind Karl Joseph as the second best safety available in the draft.
"I feel totally ready for the pro level," says Bell. "The thing that I tell coaches who ask me about what will be different in the pros is just the terminology. I know defense and we're talking about the same thing, but the verbiage is different. That can be a game-changer, since some people use numbers and others use words.
"My skill set for covering the deep middle, my range, my ability to tackle in space and cover the No. 2 guy - my versatility is through the roof. You can do a lot of things with me. I'm looking forward to getting out there and having fun with dudes who play at a high level, getting around guys who really want to win. I'm ready to learn more about the game at a higher level."
Bell did admit it'd be nice for his family if either the Tennessee Titans or Atlanta Falcons selected him in the draft, given his hometown is Chattanooga, but it's clear he's more excited to suit up for a team with its house in order.
"It'd be nice for my family to not have to travel so far, since those teams are at arms length," he says. "It would be great but you never know what happens. I just want to be in a great system with guys who compete and want to win. You just want to get around guys or a coaching staff who want to win who are all in together because you're working for each other. At the end of the day, you want one common goal in mind: to win games."