Next up in our rookie profile series is Purdue standout wide receiver David Bell. He enjoyed a stellar career at West Lafayette throughout the last three seasons and declared early for the NFL draft. Let’s take a closer look inside the game of David Bell.
Junior (Early declare)
6’2 205 Pounds
Estimated 40 time- 4.52
*30% Breakout Age- 19.7
*Year 2 Weighted Dominator- 37.6%
Introducing Mr. Bell
Bell was a four-star wide receiver who played basketball and football in high school. The Indianapolis native decided to stay in-state to play for the Boilermakers over Ohio State, and Penn State offers.
He would squander no time introducing himself to the college scene. Bell became a staple for Purdue’s offense, hauling in 86 receptions for 1035 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman. In year two, Bell kept the ball rolling as a sophomore averaging 8.8 receptions per game and eight touchdowns in a Covid-19 shortened 2020 campaign. He saved his best for last in 2021, collecting 93 receptions for 1286 yards as a junior, earning first-team All American honors.
Statistically, Bell’s overall college profile stacks up against anybody in the 2022 class. For whatever reason, he seems to get knocked by some as a safe but boring alternative in this rookie class.
Let’s dive in a little closer on some strengths and weaknesses in his game to make our own observations.
When you watch Bell, the one word that keeps coming to mind for me is savvy. He’s good at extensively everything he does. Bell might not be the most explosive receiver in the 2022 class, but don’t mistake that for him not being athletically gifted. He consistently finds the soft spot in a secondary recognizing space. Don’t try zone coverage on Bell; it will often become a losing battle. Bell can make people miss in space and has yards after the catch ability.
Bell works across the field here with his quarterback. Nice sidestep to make a defender miss and turns upfield to get the first down. He turns a five-yard gain into ten yards.
Massive YAC gainer for a score here. It’s possible all eleven defenders had their shot at Bell on this play.
Bell’s shifty with the ball in his hands and physical finishing off plays. Bell fights for the pylon here.
Bell is primarily featured on the outside, but he can also be stationed in the slot. Purdue exploited his versatility by getting him the ball in many different ways.
No matter where Bell was positioned, he displayed solid ability as a route runner. Bell’s route tree is expansive. There’s always room for refinement, but overall, Bell showcased proficiency with his releases and footwork.
Here we see Bell working one on one in the slot versus a linebacker. He has excellent balance and a forward lean. Bell sinks his hips as he engages the defender. A quick stick jab with his feet opens up the linebacker. This is a complete mismatch.
Time and time again, Bell can be found winning on crossers and quick slants. In this example, the cornerback is looking to keep outside leverage. Bell uses some nice foot fire to get the corner off balance and drives upfield to catch the slant. Once again. Subtle. Savvy. Sound.
Bell displays a solid catch radius and the ability to high point 50/50 balls when needed. He uses his size well to box out defenders. At 6’2 205 pounds, he’s not the most intimidating receiver, but he has some of the better body control in the class, adjusting to passes mid-air.
Here we see Bell show good burst off the line to create some initial separation. Despite being held and interfered with for most of the play, he’s able to haul this one with style. High-quality ball tracking. Great concentration to make the play.
Room for Improvement
Bell has good hands demonstrating the ability to high point, but there are times where he has occasional lapses in concentration.
I noticed Bell periodically would allow the ball to enter his body instead of extending his hands out to make the play. Here’s an example of Bell securing a body catch. Plays like this allow defenders more time to make a play on the ball. The speed of the game in the NFL is a lot different. This may not be completed at the next level.
Bell gets knocked pretty good for lack of separation. I wouldn’t classify it as a glaring flaw, but I also wouldn’t classify separating as one of Bell’s greatest strengths.
Bell can struggle versus man press coverage at times. He’s strong enough to fight through coverage, but you see moments where he clashes off the line. Bell could struggle at the next level getting taken off his route versus man coverage.
Here we see the cornerback stay with Bell throughout the route with relative ease (with the help of a bit of grabbing). A reason why I’m not overly concerned about situations like these is the body control and adjustments he’s shown he’s capable of throughout most of his career.
Draft Capital- Ceiling late first round with a floor of the late second round
Team Fits- Chiefs, Patriots, Saints, Packers
One QB Rookie Draft- 1.07 to 1.11 range
SuperFlex Rookie Draft- 1.10 to 2.04 range
The Final Bell
Bell checks off a lot of boxes overall. Pre-draft his profile accounts for an early college production, early breakout age, size, and the tape confirms it all. While Bell might not be great at any one particular thing, he’s good at just about everything. He’s a cerebral player. I expect Bell to be pro-ready from day one, wherever he lands.
David Bell will provide excellent value in rookie drafts this spring for dynasty managers.
* Statistics provided by Michael Nelson and his database. You can find Michael on Twitter @aNellytics.
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