David Bell will be returning to the old neighborhood when he works out in the coming week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
As a prep athlete Bell was competing for Indianapolis’ Warren Central and not only was a highly decorated receiver for a state title-winning prep football team but was on an undefeated state basketball champion. In the Hoosier state, of course, playing for a state basketball champion is golden.
Throughout the run up to the 2022 NFL Draft, Bell has been a name associated quite often with the Bears largely because of the team’s lack of receivers under contract and also because his playing style is reminiscent of a young version of the player he would be replacing Allen Robinson.
This week NBC Sports’ Glynn Morgan attached Bell to the Bears’ second-round pick, their first of the draft and 41st overall. Pro Football Focus acpparently likes Bell much less than others and had the Bears selecting him but in the third round during their first three-round mock draft.
David Bell’s Background
Bell not only played high school ball close to the site of the combine, but Purdue is just a short drive up Route 65 from Indianapolis in West Lafayette.
Bell made 232 receptions for 2,946 yards in three Purdue seasons, his second shortened to six games by the pandemic. He averaged 12.7 yards per catch and had 21 career TD passes. He came out of a passing attack, one of the better ones over time in the country let alone the Big Ten. Last year they averaged 44.3 passes a game, 15.6 more than their opponents did. In some cases this wouldn’t be desireable because it means you’re behind and throwing more but in Purdue’s case it was their attack and they weren’t behind all the time as they enjoyed a 9-4 season. This exposure to a good passing attack benfits Bell, just like it did Rondale Moore in his first season with the Cardinals.
The NFL Combine
The eyes will be on Bell’s leaping ability but just like with most receivers it will be focused largely on his 40 time. It’s been speculated he isn’t the fastest of receivers but neither was Robinson. There are projections Bell, who is 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, will run 4.51. It’s based on playing speed or unofficial times she ran in the past. That would be a good time. Robinson ran only 4.6 for his combine 40. Also watch his vertical leap. This helped separate Robinson in those battles for the ball along the sideline. Bell is not Robinson in terms of strength. Robinson is 220 pounds and Bell just 208, although by the time he is 8 years older Bell could be 220 pounds through weight training. The reps in the bench press don’t necessarily mean a lot for a receiver, but scouting reports suggest Bell is a good blocker for a receiver and strength helps there.
The Bears could always use a good blocking wide receiver. The Packers used their receivers extensively as blockers and their QB coach Luke Getsy is now Bears offensive coordinator. He also was a wide receivers coach at one time.
The Bears’ Choice
The Bears need more than one receiver. They actually need more than two receivers because Darnell Mooney is the only one on the roster with more than two catches last year.
Even if they signed two free agent receivers the position remains a need. Robinson, Damiere Byrd, Marquise Goodwin and Jakeem Grant are all unrestricted free agents and Grant might be the only one they pursue for a return simply based on his return ability.
So when the Bears select in Round 2, if Bell is still available, other receivers even more highly regarded have been drafted, and no one with first-round talent has fallen to them at a need position, it would not be surprising to see Bell selected by Bears GM Ryan Poles.