Markquese Bell didn’t hear his name called in the NFL Draft earlier this month, but it’s clear the Dallas Cowboys were very interested in his services. The former Florida A&M safety was one of the first undrafted free agents to sign following the NFL Draft.
The Cowboys enticed Bell to sign with the storied franchise over the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles with a $15k signing bonus and $200,000 guaranteed on his first contract.
The 6’2, 212 pound safety developed a reputation for being a punishing tackler with an active motor at FAMU, racking up 95 tackles in his final season. He also showed surprising speed at the NFL Combine where he ran a 4.41 — a very impressive number for a big safety. Bell knows that his size and speed can be utilized in many ways, including in the special teams phase of the game.
“I want to contribute on special teams. That is going to get my foot in the door,” Bell told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier this week. “I want to learn the playbook and get with some of the older guys that know the system and learn from them to help me get where I want to go.”
For months leading up to the NFL Draft, Bell was thought to be the top HBCU prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. Four players were taken from HBCUs in the draft’s final day — including two defensive backs (Fayetteville State’s Joshua Williams and South Carolina State’s Decobie Durant) — but Bell was not one of them. While it may have been disappointing for him personally not to be selected in the draft, he proudly wears being an HBCU product on his sleeve.
“I know I am the only guy from an HBCU on this team,” Bell said. “That is attached to me. I want to make people respect HBCU dudes and stop overlooking us and thinking we are lower ranked and lower competition.”
The Cowboys have a history of finding gems from HBCUs dating all the way back to the 1960s. Markquese Bell is hoping to add his name to that list, and it starts this weekend with a good performance at Dallas Cowboys mini-camp.