Arizona back hoping to hear from Broncos


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Jan 22, 2006
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Arizona back hoping to hear from Broncos
Bell's size and style fit Denver system
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer
Indianapolis - When Mike Bell hired his agents, he had one request.

"He told us that he really wants to be a Denver Bronco," said agent Steve Feldman, who, along with Josh Luchs, represents the University of Arizona running back. "He said that was his dream."

It's uncertain if Bell, who lived in Denver until he was 11 before moving to Arizona and counts John Elway as his hero, will accomplish his goal. But he may be on his way. He was one of the running backs the Broncos studied at the NFL scouting combine.

The Broncos probably will select a running back during the April 29-30 draft, and likely in the first three rounds. They have a recent tradition of drafting a running back, having selected one every year but two since Mike Shanahan took over as coach in 1995.

Denver is in the market for a tailback this year. Starting tailback Mike Anderson turns 33 in September and is facing a contract negotiation. If Anderson does not return, it leaves third-year pro Tatum Bell and free agent Ron Dayne, who will get a shot at significant playing time. The Broncos are working to retain Dayne, a former Heisman Trophy winner. Depending on what happens, Tatum Bell could be a trade candidate.

The Broncos, who have the 22nd and 29th picks in the first round of the draft, could acquire a running back during free agency. But that avenue is less sure than the draft.

Denver may not have much spending flexibility in free agency, which starts Friday. But with a flooded running back market, the Indianapolis Colts' Edgerrin James and the Baltimore Ravens' Jamal Lewis are veteran players to monitor. Both tailbacks fit the style of Denver's running game but are expected to cost more than the Broncos can spend.

Mike Bell, meanwhile, is eager for the Broncos to address their draft needs with him.

"Of course, I'd be happy to go anywhere," Bell said, "but Denver is the place I want to be."

Bell grew up watching Terrell Davis, a former Broncos star, and decided to emulate that style.

"I think it's a mixture of me naturally fitting their style and me wanting to fit their style," Bell said of the Broncos. "That's what I watched as a kid, so that's how I wanted to run."

In four seasons at Arizona, Bell rushed for 3,163 yards and 17 touchdowns and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. What the 6-foot, 215-pound Bell has going for him is the size Denver looks for. The Broncos have taken small backs, but a bigger player is more likely to make an immediate push for playing time in their system.

In addition to Bell, running backs who may attract interest from the Broncos include Minnesota's Laurence Maroney, Louisiana State's Joseph Addai, Virginia Tech's Cedric Humes, South Florida's Andre Hall and Southern California's LenDale White.

White is a Denver native who shined in high school at South and Chatfield before starring at USC, where he helped the Trojans win two national championships. He may fit the style of Denver's running game as well as anyone available in the draft.

But White is a sure first-round pick and may not be available when Denver picks at No. 22. Because the Broncos have had so much success developing running backs, it could be a stretch for the team to use a first-round pick on a running back, especially when the team will be looking for help at defensive end, wide receiver, safety and on the offensive line early in the draft.

"We always look at running backs. That's our history," Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said. "It's just what we do."
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