Linebacker Nick Bellore could be a good fit under the Quinn regime
Lions fans will have to forgive Nick Bellore for being from Minnesota. That should be easy to do because he chose to attend Central Michigan despite interest from Wisconsin and Kansas State. Bellore started for the Chippewas from the day he arrived on campus, setting a school record of 51 consecutive starts. The team went to three bowl games with Bellore as the “quarterback” of their defense. Bellore stood out in the MAC, earning all-MAC first team recognition in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Bellore was not one of the fastest linebackers at the 2011 NFL Combine, posting a 4.84s 40 yard dash time but his 4.00s 20-yard shuttle was among the best in his linebacker group.
Nick Bellore’s Professional Career
Bellore did not make the list of drafted players in 2011 and started his career with the New York Jets. More than half of the teams in the NFL had contacted his agent with offers, and Bellore actually made the Jets’ active roster as a rookie. He played primarily a special teams role and recorded 19 tackles for the Jets. Bellore even caught a pass on a fake punt for the team. Bellore remained with the Jets until the 2015 off-season, notching double-digit tackles for their special teams units every season. His high level of play earned him an All-Pro Special Teams nod from Pro Football Focus for the 2014 season.
Bellore continued his career with the San Francisco 49ers, signing a two-year contract in 2015. In his first year with the 49ers he continued his special teams role, but in 2016 he started 10 games at inside linebacker in San Francisco. Pro Football Focus was not as excited about Bellore as a linebacker as they had been about him as a special teamer. He received average grades for his coverage, but his run defense was poor enough that it was clear he wasn’t starter material.
Nick Bellore has a very good chance to make the Lions’ final roster. Bob Quinn has shown an affinity for veteran players who have excelled on special teams, and shown backup level of ability on defense. Johnson Bademosi immediately springs to mind. Bellore’s play would likely have to be good enough to convince Bob Quinn to keep six linebackers on the roster, however, something the Lions did not do in 2016. If there is a linebacker on the roster that can change their minds, it is likely Nick Bellore.