David Bell - WR - Purdue
Welcome to the rookie profile for David Bell. Bell came right out of the gates and went for over 1000 receiving yards as a true freshman for the Purdue Boilermakers. If it weren’t for the COVID-affected 2020 season, he might have gone for 1000 yards all three seasons he spent at Purdue. Bell wasn’t supposed to be thrust into the WR1 role for Purdue with the presence of Rondale Moore. But Moore only played 6 games during Bell’s collegiate career, allowing him to step in and deliver as the team’s WR1 right away.
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 212 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.65s
3-cone drill: 7.14s
20-yard shuttle: 4.57s
Vertical Jump: 33
Broad Jump: 118
Bench Press: DNP
David Bell was a solid 4-star recruit that had a lot of offers from schools around the midwest. He decided to take his talents to Purdue University where he looked to create a dynamic duo with sophomore wide receiver, Rondale Moore. Unfortunately, Moore went on to only play 4 games in 2019 due to injury. That left David Bell the opportunity to take over as the WR1 for the Boilermakers’ offense. He took that opportunity and turned it into a breakout season, catching 86 passes for 1035 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also added 3 attempts on the ground for 12 yards and a touchdown. He was awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Second-team All-Big Ten honors.
After back-to-back breakout seasons from two returning receivers, Rondale Moore and David Bell, the Boilermakers looked poised to have one of the best receiving duos in the nation. Unfortunately due to lingering injuries and later the COVID season, Rondale Moore decided to sit out all but 3 games in 2020. That left, now sophomore David Bell, to be the alpha wide receiver once again. He took advantage once again and was on pace for well over 1000 receiving yards for back-to-back seasons if it weren’t for the shortened COVID season in the Big Ten.
2021 was just continued improvement for David Bell at Purdue. He produced over 1250 yards and 6 touchdowns through 11 games. He was awarded First-team All-Big Ten honors for the second consecutive year as well as the Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year award, just as Rondale Moore did back in 2018. It was no surprise when David Bell decided to declare for the NFL Draft early following the 2021 season.
Starting from the top, David Bell has extraordinary body control. He can contort his body to make spectacular catches or make impressive toe taping catches on the sideline. He also does a great job of using his 6’2” and 205lb frame to box out defenders from the catch point, as if he is a power forward in basketball boxing out for a rebound. In addition to his physicality, he has really good hands. He routinely plucks the ball out of the air whether it’s a tough grab on the sideline or over the middle of the field. There are very few true drops to find on Bell’s tape.
When it comes to route running, Bell is very serviceable in this regard. He utilizes inside and outside leverage well, which will be key at the next level for his size. While he doesn’t gain a lot of separation regularly, he has an explosive release that he utilizes often on slants. When he does get into the open field, he follows his blockers well and can break tackles with his physicality. While Bell may not be a burner in the open field, he has good enough speed to translate to the next level and make explosive plays. Additionally, he utilizes his physicality effectively in the blocking game, consistently latching on defenders and preventing them from making a play.
While Bell is a solid enough route runner, there is definitely room for improvement in this area of his game. He rounds off his routes a bit too often and for as physical as he is, he will get pushed off his spot or pushed off his route trajectory far too often. Additionally, he’ll need to work on his release package. There is a crisp 3-yard slant that he creates a lot of separation from, but he will need to diversify more often at the next level to win consistently.
The biggest worry with David Bell is his body catches. He has great hands and extends his arms at the catch point well a majority of the time, but when he is in a contested-catch situation, he corrals the ball into his body instead of attacking it in the air. While he was able to get away with this more often than not at the collegiate level, it’ll be hard to continue that success without attacking the ball in the NFL.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 4/ Round 5
While David Bell has the physical profile of an alpha wide receiver at the next level, it is more than likely he’ll line up as the second option in an offense. He would benefit from having the number one receiving option on the team working the middle of the field while Bell can spend a majority of his snaps lining up out wide and working outside the numbers. The New York Jets working beside Elijah Moore would be an interesting one-two punch for Zach Wilson to grow with. If the Cleveland Browns don’t want to spend early draft capital on a wide receiver, David Bell could develop nicely alongside Jarvis Landry working the middle of the field and the slot. And finally, pairing David Bell with Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller working the middle of the field in Las Vegas would be an exciting fit and bolster Derek Carr’s targets.
Post Draft Analysis
Cleveland Browns- Round 3, Pick 35
With the acquisition of Deshaun Watson, it left the Cleveland Browns with minimal top-end draft capital this year. Regardless, they spent what they did have on a position that was needed with the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. last season and Jarvis Landry this offseason. They addressed the wide receiver position both in the offseason with the addition of Amari Cooper and now through the draft with the selection of David Bell in the third round. Even before the acquisitions and departures, the team was fairly bare at wide receiver with a lot of rotational players like Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Despite the concerns with Bell’s tape, he has an incredible production profile that the Browns seem to have not been able to overlook.
David Bell looks like he has a clear shot at getting on the field in 3-wide packages right out of the gates. He’ll compete with Jakeem Grant as the slot wide receiver and could even challenge Donovan Peoples-Jones for the outside receiver spot right away. Bell has the skillset to work inside or outside, adding to his possibility of getting on the field early. But even when he gets on the field, there will be a lot of mouths to feed in Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Hunter Bryant, David Njoku, plus the plethora of running backs in Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson, and Jerome Ford. In dynasty, he’s a solid bet at his current ADP in the mid-2nd of rookie drafts to see if he can live up to his college production. It’s a big swing that may miss, but in the 2nd, it’s good to aim for upside and not safety. In redraft, it’s best to avoid Bell and wait and see and potentially scoop him up off waivers if he makes noise in the preseason or during the season.
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Image Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski – USA TODAY Sports