David Bell: Here To Make A Big Impact In Year 1?

August 25, 2022

The Cleveland Browns are extremely desperate at one key offensive position. Is David Bell here to impact the wide receiver room in his rookie year?

Introducing Mr. Bell

David Bell was a four-star wide receiver who played basketball and football in high school. The Indianapolis native decided to stay in-state and went on to play for the Purdue Boilermakers rather than choose Ohio State or Penn State.

YearClassGRecYdsAvgTDAttYdsAvgTD
2019FR1286103512.073124.01
2020SO65362511.88000
*2021JR1193128613.8633913.00
Career232294612.7216518.51

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 8/25/2022.

When his first collegiate opportunity came, he would squander no time introducing himself to the country as David Bell became a factor in Purdue’s offense. As a true freshman, he hauled 86 receptions for 1035 yards and seven touchdowns. Bell would continue to shine in his sophomore seasonas he averaged 8.8 receptions per game with eight touchdowns amidst Covid-19 in the  2020 season. He saved his best for last in 2021 by collecting 93 receptions for 1286 yards. He averages 13.8 yards per reception with six touchdowns as well. Bell earned first-team All-American honors.

He Set a Purdue record with 17 career 100-yard receiving games, which included seven during his 2021 All-American season. He also posted the second-highest single-season receiving yardage in school history with 1,286.

After his junior campaign, David Bell declared for the 2022 NFL Draft, and his college profile at wide receiver was one not to be overshadowed. In the third round of the NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns selected him with their 99th pick. Can Bell come into Cleveland and make a name for himself as their third man at wide receiver? 

Underrated Athleticism

When you watch Bell, the one word that keeps coming to mind for me is savvy. He’s good at everything he does on the field. Bell might not have been the most explosive receiver coming out of the 2022 draft class, but don’t mistake him for not being athletically gifted. 

He consistently finds the soft spot in a secondary recognizing space. Don’t try to run zone coverage on Bell because he tends to find his groove against it. Another thing that stands out is that he can make most defenders miss in space and has yards-after-the-catch ability. Bell is shifty when the ball is in his hands and can play physically and finish off plays. 

Technically Sound

Another unique thing about Bell is that he can primarily be featured outside but can also be stationed in the slot. The ability to play both ways at a high level is a talent. At Purdue, they exploited his versatility by getting him the ball in many ways that worked.

No matter where Bell is positioned on the field, he displays a solid ability at running routes. In Bell’s case, there’s always room for refinement, but overall, he showcased proficiency with his releases and footwork. The last thing to point out is how well Bell can play regarding crosser or slant routes.

Ball Skills

Another quality trait to have as a receiver is ball skills, and Bell displays a solid catch radius and the ability to contest 50/50 balls when needed. He uses his size well to box out defenders. In various games at Purdue, Bell showed off that he has the hands and can use his size as an advantage. He may not be the most intimidating receiver in the league, but he has the better body control and the ability to adjust to passes mid-air.

Room for Improvement

Although Bell is a talented individual, there are some things that he can improve on. He has good hands demonstrating the ability to reach a high point, but sometimes he lapses in concentration. For example, there have been plays where Bell would allow the ball to enter his body instead of extending his hands to make the play. You got to get the ball in that situation because the NFL game speed is much different than at the collegiate level.

Another thing to take away is how Bell could use improvement in finding separation from his defender. I wouldn’t justify it as a glaring flaw, but it is something that Bell can struggle with while in man-to-man coverage, but he’s physically fighting through it. Seeing how Bell adjusts to the pro-level when getting off your route in man coverage will be interesting. 

Time will tell if the Browns got themselves a steal with David Bell, but the fact is the wide receiver room is open for anyone’s taking. Besides Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, who will step up in that locker room and help the passing game?


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