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Day Two of the 2015 NFL Draft brought new Tampa Bay Buccaneer Jameis Winston a pair of protectors. Day Three has now delivered another deep threat to the Bucs' rookie quarterback.
With their fifth-round pick on Saturday, the Buccaneers selected Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell, the 162nd selection overall. Bell is best known as an explosive down-the-field pass-catcher but could also help the Buccaneers in the kick return game.
READ: 5 Things to Know About Bell
The 6-1, 197-pound receiver finished his four-year collegiate career as the Cornhuskers' all-time leader in both receptions (181) and receiving yards (2,689) and his big-play ability was reflected in a career yards-per-catch average of 14.9, including a 16.8-yard mark in his 2014 senior campaign. Bell was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the conference's coaches and a team captain last fall.
Bell's talents were also on display in February at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where he was among the event's top performers in the vertical jump (41.5 inches), the broad jump (129.0 inches) and the three-cone drill (6.66 seconds). He also ran a 4.42 40-yard dash in Indy and a 4.37 at the Nebraska Pro Day.
Bell joins a Buccaneer receiving corps that should make Winston's transition to the NFL much easier. Last year's pair of 1,000-yard starters, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, both return to provide the rookie quarterback with a pair of 6-5 targets on the outside. The team also re-signed productive third receiver Louis Murphy and expects to get more out of 6-5 tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Bucs' second-round pick in 2014. Bell could work into the mix as a slot receiver thanks to his competitiveness when the ball is in the air and his quick moves after the catch. He could also provide another outside deep threat, allowing one of the Bucs' bigger targets to work mismatches in the middle of the field.
In all, Bell played in 53 games at Nebraska, starting 49 of them. He was productive right from the beginning of his collegiate career, putting up 32 receptions for 461 yards and three touchdown. Statistically, his best season was his 2012 sophomore campaign, when he caught 50 passes for 863 yards, six touchdowns and 17.3 yards per grab. However, he never dropped below those freshman totals in any season and finished with 21 touchdowns to go with his school-record totals in catches and yards. He caught at least one pass in 51 of his last 52 games at Nebraska.
Bell also helped the Cornhuskers in the return game, running back 51 kickoffs for 1,277 yards and one touchdown for an average of 25.0 yards per attempt. He only attempted one punt return during his college career but could try to learn that job, too, in the NFL. Bell's father could give him some pointers in that regard; Ken Bell spent four seasons (1986-89) with the Broncos returning punts and kickoffs. The elder Bell averaged 21.3 yards on 104 kickoff returns and 6.7 yards on 22 punt returns during his tenure in Denver.
The Buccaneers have two additional picks to execute before the third day of the draft wraps up. They are due to choose at #184 in the sixth round and #231 in the seventh round.