The Browns wasted little of their 2022 draft addressing a key need: wide receiver.
In the third round, Cleveland selected Purdue receiver David Bell.
And so far, Bell has impressed at Browns OTAs and summer workouts, including rumors that he didn’t drop a pass in practice for weeks.
The Browns are hoping that Bell will develop into a quality receiver, adding talent to a corps that is experiencing an overhaul from seasons past.
In the middle of last season, Odell Beckham, Jr. forced his way out of town, where he teamed up with Matt Stafford in Los Angeles to win the Super Bowl.
Tight end Austin Hooper, another receiving option, also left via free agency.
But what exactly can fans expect from Bell this season?
Here are a few goals for the former Boilermaker to consider:
1. Become Cleveland’s Primary Slot Receiver
The Browns have a very full wide receiver room.
Don’t mistake “full” with “loaded,” however.
Also, throw in David Njoku as a dual-threat TE.
I'm not saying it hasn't happened and I was just focused elsewhere when it did, but through the five open #Browns practices I personally have not seen David Bell drop a single pass—not in position drills, not in 7 on 7s, not in full team drills. Not one. It's wild.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) June 14, 2022
It’s a crowded bunch, but not one that Bell can’t separate from.
That’s why one of Bell’s goals heading into this season should be to establish himself as the primary slot receiver on this team.
At Purdue, Bell primarily lined up on the outside but also took reps in the slot.
And Purdue ran a receiver-option offense, meaning Bell has experience reading defenses and choosing which inside route to run.
In Cleveland’s current offense, it’s tough to see Bell stealing Peoples-Jones’ spot on the outside.
And unless Amari Cooper (god forbid) goes down with injury or is just plain terrible, Bell isn’t touching Cooper’s spot on the other side.
But there are plenty of opportunities for Bell to be Cleveland’s no. 1 slot option.
Schwartz is another speed merchant whose talents are best utilized on the outside.
If anyone threatens Bell’s snaps, it’s probably Njoku, who has experience lining up on the inside.
But Bell was a multi-1,000+ receiver at Purdue who, even during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, still managed 625 yards and eight touchdowns.
He’s plenty talented, he just has to go out and make the most of his targets.
2. Follow The CeeDee Lamb Model
Any discussion of Bell’s stats next season depends on one factor out of his control: who is playing quarterback?
With every passing day, the chances Deshaun Watson suits up for the Browns seem to drop precipitously.
That means, come next month, it could be NFL journeyman Jacoby Brissett throwing passes to Bell.
Does that mean Bell’s numbers have to take a hit?
Or maybe Bell can take a page out of Cowboys star CeeDee Lamb’s playbook.
🔔David Bell 🔔
YAC 536 yds (8th)
Yac/REC. 5.8 (44th)
Y/RR 2.7 yds (24th)
MTF 25 (2nd)
— Jeremy (@PopesFFH) June 30, 2022
Nonetheless, Lamb still made the most of his chances, going for 935 yards and five scores.
Here’s the kicker, all five touchdowns and 877 of those yards came in the slot.
Tack on a 62.7 catch-when-targeted rate in the slot, and Lamb put together an excellent rookie campaign.
Is Jacoby Brissett as good as or better than Dalton, DiNucci, and Gilbert?
Is Bell the same level of talent that Lamb was coming out of college?
But can Bell still contribute to the offense on day one, regardless of who throws him the ball?