Cleveland Browns fans had to know a receiver was on the horizon.
When, though, was the real question.
The Browns lacked a first-round pick, so targeting one of the top four receivers in the draft (Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jameson Williams) was well off the table.
And so too were the next tier of receivers (Jahan Dotson and Treylon Burks).
All six were gone by the late-teens, let alone the second round, the earliest place the Browns conceivably could have taken a receiver.
But they knew this.
The NFL has come to prioritize receiving weapons.
Adding young talent can not only propel a team to playoff success (looking at you, Ja’Marr Chase), but it can keep salary relatively manageable, giving teams financial flexibility to spend in other areas.
So it’s likely the Browns knew their chances of landing one of this year’s top prospects were nil.
Nonetheless, they might have hit on a future piece of the receiving corps in David Bell.
Super excited to be apart of CLEVELAND, I am ready to get to work‼️ #Browns
— David Bell 3️⃣ (@DB3LL) April 30, 2022
Here are three things to know about the former Boilermaker:
1. Familiar Comp
Maybe it’s wishful thinking.
Or…if you’re not a fan…hateful thinking.
But one comp that’s already been thrown around town is a familiar one for Browns fans: Jarvis Landry.
Let’s start with size.
Both Landry and Bell are slightly undersized receivers; Landry clocked in at 5’11”, while Bell measured at six feet and change.
Both weighed in around the 200-pound mark (Bell: 212; Landry: 205).
And when it comes to bread and butter, both players excel in the middle of the field.
He has a knack for finding weaknesses in an opposing defense’s zone, and has experience setting picks for fellow receivers in traffic.
Just like Landry, expect Bell to be used extensively on third downs to keep the chains moving on offense.
2. Productive Force
A three-year starter at Purdue, Bell tallied 2,935 yards on 232 receptions.
He also found the end-zone 21 times in his collegiate career, playing in a conference that features stud defenses in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Penn State.
The Cleveland Browns pick Purdue WR David Bell at No. 99 overall.
FORTY-ONE contested catches since 2018 (1st among Power Five WRs) 🎩 pic.twitter.com/grYecUAyPZ
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 30, 2022
In 2019, Bell was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and followed it up with making two straight All-Big Ten teams.
Last season, Bell was a consensus All-American.
Bell was also crucial to Purdue’s RPO scheme, which put the play in his hands and allowed him to decide mid-play which direction to break his route.
Purdue is known as an “engineer’s paradise” and David Bell engineered some excellent offensive seasons in West Lafayette.
3. Keep Expectations Reasonable
At the end of the day, there is a reason Bell fell to the no. 99th pick.
He put up big numbers at Purdue, but teams grew concerned with his testing.
His 40-yard dash time was pedestrian (4.68 seconds) as were his 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill exercises.
He has excellent upside and can be a valuable contributor to this team, but he’ll likely need time to develop.
Don’t expect him to come out Week One and embarrass defenses or burn corners.
He’s obviously not a Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase, and he’s probably not quite a post-first round immediate hit like Deebo Samuel or D.K. Metcalf.
But with Amari Cooper likely garnering the most attention from d-backs and Donovan Peoples-Jones operating as the deep threat/burner, there’s a place for Bell to shine underneath and in the middle of the field.
Bell will bring steadiness and high-IQ play, which never hurt a team’s chances.
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