Silver and Black has run through the veins of the Bell family for decades.
In 1991, the Los Angeles Raiders selected running back Nick Bell in the second round (No. 43 overall) of the NFL Draft. The Las Vegas native played three seasons for the team, totaling 853 rushing yards, seven touchdowns, 21 receptions, and 213 receiving yards.
When asked about his fondest moments as a Raider, Bell’s first and last touchdowns as a Raider were his most memorable.
“My first touchdown,” Bell said in a moment of reflection. “My first touchdown was against Houston [Oilers] in a preseason game and it was 71 yards.”
He continued, “One of the better moments I had was actually my last touchdown with Steve Smith, who is my very good friend. I pray for him every day. I just went behind him and he took me in and we won the game with no time on the clock. It’s one of the greatest games I’ve played in my life.”
It’s been 26 years since a member of the Bell family played for the Raiders, but that’s all about to change.
On the final day of the 2019 NFL Draft, in the final round, and with their final pick, Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock selected Nick Bell’s nephew, Quinton Bell, with the No. 230 overall pick.
The Long Beach, Calif., native was a three-sport athlete growing up, participating in track, basketball, and football at Costa Mesa High School.
During an interview with Brantley Watson of The Orange County Register in 2013, Bell’s high school football coach, Wally Grant, shared that Bell has the athleticism to be great at whatever he does, regardless of the sport.
“I don’t care what the sport is,” Grant said. “If you give him a baseball bat and give him a week, he’d be good. He’s one of those kids that just has those gifts.”
Growing up, Quinton’s uncle and former Raider, Nick, knew he was athletically gifted because when young Quinton started playing football he was a natural at everything, but given his size it was a perplexing situation for his coaches to figure out where to play him.
Originally, Quinton was asked to line up as a wide receiver, but prior to his final season in college, he was asked to make the transition to defensive end. That’s not an easy transition to make for a number of reasons, but it was no big deal for the Southern California kid.
“It really was kind of a decision I made for myself as well as for my team at the time,” he told the media via conference call Saturday. “We got a new coaching staff my senior year and they came in and they saw some potential in me that I didn’t see for myself. At receiver I kind of wasn’t really doing too much. They came in and said, ‘Look, we think you have a chance to play at the next level at defensive end, pass rushing.’ So, at first it kind of sounded a little crazy to me, but looking back at it now, it’s probably the best decision I ever made in my life.”
Take a look through photos of the newest draft class to wear the Silver and Black.
It’s hard to disagree with Bell, considering his switch to defensive end got him drafted by the same team that selected his uncle in 1991. As the saying goes, “Once a Raider, Always a Raider” and now they’ll forever be remembered together in Raiders lore.
“I felt like this is somewhere I could see myself,” the younger Bell said. “Obviously, the whole coaching staff knew who he was as soon as I got there [for my visit]. He was a legend man, so I think that I automatically got the respect of some of the guys just from having a former Raider in my family.”
His family legacy may have earned the respect of the coaching staff, but so did his game. At 240 pounds, Bell clocked a 4.4 second 40-yard dash, which left Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock flabbergasted. Raiders scout Teddy Atlas was relentless with his pursuit of Bell, and Mayock’s happy he didn’t let up.
“We brought him in for one of our 30 visits, and I’ll tell you our scout Teddy Atlas – who was just upstairs trying to sign some free agents,” Mayock said. “Teddy Atlas did a great job, he kept this guy alive in my mind and that’s what good scouts do. In my mind I was thinking, ‘I got to hear about a wide receiver converted to a defensive end and he’s from a small school? Come on, Teddy.’ And he kept bringing him up and he said, ‘Mike, he weighs 240 pounds.’ I said wait a minute, ‘he was 222 or 225.’ And he said, ‘he’s 240 and he ran a 4.4’ and that got my attention.”
From that point on, Mayock and the Raiders coaching staff had Bell circled on their draft board. They knew if they allowed him to become an undrafted free agent another team would swoop in, and they weren’t going to let that happen.
Even as a seventh-round pick, Bell offers a unique skill set that the Raiders need, and he’ll have to compete just like everyone else in the coming months to make the active roster in September; however, right now he’s enjoying the moment with his family and continuing his uncle’s legacy in the Silver and Black.
“I went in to it praying over Oakland, know what happened,” Quinton said. “I mean I honestly am surprised man. It feels like a dream right now. I don’t even know how to explain it.”
From one generation to the next, Quinton’s Uncle Nick is excited for his opportunity, and knows he’s in good hands.
“I think they’re going to give him a fair shot to see if he has it and I believe he’s going to produce like I could’ve in the past with the right system,” he explained. “He’s got the right people behind him. Coach Gruden is a great coach, an absolutely great coach. I really like him and how his players get riled up. He has an expectation for the players, they know they’re accountable and responsible for something.”