2022 NFL Scouting Combine: David Bell is a product of his environment

<p>Image courtesy of Purdue Sports Athletics</p>

Image courtesy of Purdue Sports Athletics

INDIANAPOLIS – Purdue standout David Bell competed in the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine with the dreams of being drafted by an NFL team just a week away. 

The former Indianapolis high school star athlete at Warren Central was the top Indiana prospect in the 2019 recruiting class. Bell was a four-star prospect according to 247Sports and ranked as the No. 19 highest-rated wide receiver.

In his first collegiate game for the Boilermakers, Bell snagged his first catch for a 49-yard touchdown during the season opener against Nevada. By the end of his freshman season, Bell led the Big Ten with 86 receptions for 1,035 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He earned 2019 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, First-Team AP Freshman All-American and Big Ten honorable mention honors. 

As a sophomore, Bell earned 2020 First-Team All-Big Ten after scoring a career-high eight touchdowns in a pandemic shortened six games, which included an 89-yard score. In three seasons at Purdue, Bell finished his career with 232 receptions, 2,946 receiving yards and 22 total touchdowns. 

This past season, Bell earned 2021 Consensus first team All-American and the Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year award. Against the nation's best teams, Bell shredded Big Ten coverages in the toughest games of the year for the Boilermakers. In the upset at No. 2 ranked Iowa, Bell caught 11 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown. 

“Coach Brohm did a phenomenal job of preparation and preparing us for the upcoming week by knowing what they are going to do and establishing us and just calling the right plays,” Bell said. “The quarterback had ultimate trust in me to put me in the right situation and give me opportunities.”

Three weeks later against No. 3 ranked Michigan State, Bell put on another terrific performance with 11 receptions for 217 yards and a touchdown. The 6’1” receiver is an articulate route-runner with prolific double moves and footwork. His airborne ball awareness and playmaking ability after the catch is illustrious on all three levels. 

“Michigan State was more of a man coverage team, we just knew we had to win our one-on-one battles, it was not only me it was a team effort,” Bell acknowledged. “We had a lot of receivers step up that game and that was definitely one of my best experiences was beating Michigan State at home.”

Bell spent the winter training for the scouting combine in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is an articulate route-runner with pro-level footwork and double moves. His awareness is prolific on all three levels and playmaking ability after the catch makes offensive scheme designed for him.

“We had a numerous amount of drills and I think the number one drill that he really worked on with us was doing something as soon as we caught the ball,” Bell said. “So, either that is just a shimmy like to throw the defensive back off so when we are in a game it is more natural than having to think about it.”

Bell had an underwhelming performance in the 40-yard dash, which was suspected early on by draft analysts, but still left a legacy among the best skill position prospects to ever come out of West Lafayette. At this point among the nation's best receivers, Bell had to demonstrate which aspects of his game will best translate into the NFL to separate from the competition. 

“My catching ability, being able to catch the ball whenever that is short, medium, or long and my contested catches,” Bell said. “Being able to box-out defenders and moving laterally,” he added. “Kind of like a crossover, it is like a release at the line of scrimmage being able to manipulate the defensive back.”

The perception is that great receivers have individual qualities that an evaluator can distinguish the elite from the rest of the field. An instinctive ability to read defensive coverages and adjust to option routes mid-play are some of the best qualities that give Bell excellent potential.

When a reporter asked what makes a great receiver, Bell replied with traits such as selling a vertical early in the route, “being reliable when your number is called” and bursting through routes with explosiveness. 

With the NFL Draft just less than 10 days away, Bell amplifies what many draft rooms view as a Day 2 player who can make an immediate impact on a roster. 

Follow Thomas Butler-Guerrero on Twitter @TBGoffical_.

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