2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: David Bell

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: David Bell

by December 25, 2021 1 comment

The 2022 NFL Draft is loaded with star receivers that have been on our radar since they entered college. On the other hand, we have Purdue’s David Bell who was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and was masked a bit under the likes of Rondale Moore while playing for the Boilermakers. Early on in Bell’s career, he showed flashes of a star in the making when Moore went down due to injury and he now has blossomed into an incredible talent at the collegiate level. He has the potential to translate to the NFL but a more in-depth look is required. Let’s break it down.

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: David Bell

Jersey: No. 3

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Purdue

Class: Junior 

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 205 lbs

Games Watched: Ohio State (2021), Notre Dame (2021), Iowa (2021), Minnesota (2020)

Major Injury History: None

Player Breakdown

Hands/Body Control (9.5/10)

Bell’s hands are borderline elite. The one drop noticed on film was against Notre Dame and it was a bad pass from the quarterback. Through contact, he’s had some really nice grabs against some big-time players like Ohio State’s Denzel Burke for one. Another catch against Notre Dame saw him fighting through a pass interference call and making the grab. Overall, he’s a very sound receiver and will do the most to fight through contact.

Contested Catch (8.25/10)

Even though Bell’s frame is pretty solid, he’s not the uber-physical receiver that will dominate every ball at the point of catch but he’s still good in this area. He caught a touchdown pass on a fade route against Iowa that required him to go up and get it and there are several other players where he attacks at the point of catch and reels in the ball. It won’t be his primary strength in the league but Bell can get it done here.

Tracking/Body Control (9.5/10)

Bell has exquisite body control. There are so many examples throughout all four games watch and it really is what promotes him into a deep threat option. Against Iowa, he beat the corner and got a step deep, and had to adjust his body to make an opposite-sided over-the-shoulder grab. In 2020 against Minnesota, he was fairly open in the end zone but showed the proper technique to reel in what was a very looped ball and secure it for the score. This is one of Bell’s best traits and another reason why he is so effective for Purdue.

Route Running (9/10)

Before we get into the real excitement, let’s note that Bell is smart against zone coverage and knows when to sit in. Now, for the main course. Bell is nearly unstoppable in the intermediate and short-route game. There’s not really a time where he didn’t get open, and it’s due in part to his route running. Bell has an extensive tree that was shown off in full with a beautiful double move into a corner post that you’d expect to be posted all over social media if it was someone like Justin Jefferson running it. His curl routes are run with precision and he stops on a dime to get open and nab the ball.

Where Bell struggles most is his deep routes. His true route running can get a little stale the farther he gets downfield but there is big-time potential here. Bell has certainly made his fair share of deep catches, sometimes because of the route he’s run and some for other reasons like his contest catchability. Overall, Bell can be a fantastic route runner in the NFL and will get featured on a lot of highlight reels.

Separation (9/10)

Bell wins with his route running, and as we mentioned earlier, mostly in the intermediate areas. When he beats the corner he really beats the guy and is often at least two steps open, which is very impressive against some of the top guys in the country. He’s sold some brilliant fakes and can eat cushion alive by adjusting his route to get targeted.

Release (9/10)

Teams rarely pressed Bell and when they did it did not go all too well. His move off the line to get inside leverage is unstoppable. It’s a big reason why Bell is able to get open on so many slants and short in routes. Outside, he’s also pretty good although the reps are a tad more limited. The best play from Bell came against Iowa where the receiver tried to jam him immediately and Bell briskly shoved it away, got into a drag route that he took for about 20 more yards.

Run After Catch (8.25/10)

This is Bell’s most inconsistent area. Against Notre Dame, he was stopped pretty quickly after catching the ball, even on screens. Against Ohio State, he was a little tougher to bring down and normally made one man miss but that’s about it. Finally, against Minnesota and Iowa, they could not control Bell. He would catch the ball and go, breaking tackles left and right. He doesn’t evade players like his former teammate, who we’ve often mentioned here, Moore but Bell has potential to be electric here in the NFL.

Vertical Speed (7.5/10)

Remember when we talked about Bell struggling to get open deep? This is the main reason why. Bell’s vertical speed is just average and something that can hurt him in the NFL if he’s not careful. However, with the route running ability and potential in the RAC game he can turn into a deep threat without being a true speedster. All in all, you’d like Bell to be better here so he can be a more complete receiver but at the same time, he should be alright.

Burst/Acceleration (8.25/10)

Burst is an area that is a bit two-fold for Bell. When he wins deep, it comes off of acceleration into the next level of the field but there are some inconsistencies. If Bell gets stuck up on his initial route, he tends to slow down running the rest of it, removing himself from the play. While this could be an effort to decide where to go next in case of a scramble drill, there aren’t too many times where he gets open on those anyway. The weaknesses are there but a healthy chunk of Bell’s touchdowns came from an extra burst deep so it is something he can be very good at.

Athleticism (4.5/5)

Bell is not going to blow us away at the combine but he’ll definitely put up more than decent numbers. We’ve touched on how vertical speed is his weakest ability but he does have some crazy quickness in the short and intermediate spaces. In addition, Bell has the jumping ability to climb the ladder and grab the ball, rounding him off as a good overall athlete.

Blocking (2/5)

The blocking from Bell is pretty abysmal. He does well to get involved at times but at others, he just relaxes. He was a lot better on this front in the 2020 game against Minnesota when the offense focused on Moore more than Bell so he had the energy to actually lay blocks, including a key one for a touchdown on a jet sweep. The long frame gives potential here but there’s not much to write home about.

Versatility (4/5)

Purdue used Bell in a ton of different ways, especially in 2021. The first, obviously, was on some screens. The thought process there is you want to get your best player going with some easy catches and the opportunity to break some tackles early. Bell also got some, but not many, reps in the slot. He mostly plays on the outside and that is where he’s shown to thrive.

Player Summary

When everyone’s focused on Garrett WilsonChris Olave, and Jameson Williams, we have let players such as Bell soar under the radar. His talent is off the charts and tons of teams could use do-it-all receivers like Bell. He’s asserted himself as a first-round talent in this draft class. Bell falling anywhere past the 20-23 mark it would be an absolute steal. Depending on the team that drafts him, the potential is there to play right away and make a big impact as well. At the end of the day, Bell should get talked about more as the draft season develops. Hopefully resulting in a Day 1 selection for the Boilermaker.

Rookie Projection: Borderline Starting Outside Receiver

Three-Year Projection: Potential Top 12 Outside Receivers

Final Grade (88.75/100): Mid-First Round Pick

Player Comparison: Rashod Bateman


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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images 

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