With the No. 61 overall, Vonn Bell joins the New Orleans Saints as their second, second-round pick joining teammate Michael Thomas who was selected by New Orleans at No. 47 overall. The former Buckeye safety started two season under coach Urban Meyer as an imperative member of the defense.
Bell was projected by many to go in the late first round, and no later than the top 10 picks in the second round. As is the case at times in the annual allocation of collegiate players, Bell became a victim of suffering through NFL draft purgatory. Nearly falling to the third round, the Saints ended the suspense and drafted the defensive back by acquiring the third-to-last pick in the second round from the Patriots through the Cardinals.
Bell came out of high school as a five-star recruit but didn’t see much playing time in his true freshman season until the postseason. Making his first start as a Buckeye in the 2014 Orange Bowl, the 5-foot-11 safety made an immediate impact by intercepting Clemson’s quarterback Tajh Boyd inside the red zone.
In 2014, Bell, then a sophomore, earned a starting safety position and finished second on the team with 92 tackles. The Georgia native also ended the 2014 season ranked ninth in the country with six interceptions, including a span of three straight games with a pick.
His most impactful takeaway came in the fourth quarter of the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Reading the eyes of Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims, Bell adjusted to the underthrown ball and intercepted it on his own goal line, robbing Alabama of a touchdown and preserving a 34-28 lead with under 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Despite only collecting two interceptions in 2015, Bell played his way to earning Associated Press first-team All-American honors. Also grabbing a first-team All-Big Ten selection, the decorated safety was a stalwart in the OSU secondary, starting in all 13 games as a junior.
Average-sized at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Bell was known for running downhill and being physical with opposing receivers in the secondary, as well as an instinct to make plays in the open field.
Despite choosing not to run in the NFL combine due to a pulled hamstring, the Saints realized the talent that fell to them at the 61st pick and didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on the former Buckeye.
The Saints are scheduled to open up play against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 11 at 1 p.m.