2022 NFL draft scouting report: Purdue WR David Bell

·3 min read

Purdue WR David Bell

6-foot-1
212 pounds

Yahoo Sports' 2022 NFL draft grade

5.60 — possible third- or fourth-rounder; contributor potential

TL;DR scouting report

Extremely productive player with three-year track record, but the lack of dynamic athleticism limits his appeal to a degree

The skinny

A 4-star Rivals recruit (No. 95 nationally) in the Class of 2019, Bell chose the Boilermakers over Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa and Indiana and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year that year, catching 86 passes for 1,035 yards and seven TDs and rushing three times for 12 yards and a TD in 12 games (nine starts). In 2020, he caught 53 passes for 625 yards and eight TDs in six starts. Bell grabbed 93 passes for 1,286 yards and six TDs and rushed three times for 39 yards in 11 starts, opting out of the bowl game and declaring early for the 2022 NFL draft.

Purdue WR David Bell has been one of the most productive pass catchers in college football the past three years. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
Purdue WR David Bell has been one of the most productive pass catchers in college football the past three years. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

Upside

  • Sturdy frame — well-built to take hits in traffic

  • Decent length — 6-foot-1 with 32 5/8-inch arms (pro day measurement)

  • 10-yard split time (1.56 seconds) displays his quick-starting speed

  • Plays with a physical edge and can power his way through tackle attempts

  • Nice body control to adjust outside his frame and work the sidelines

  • Crafty — mixes up releases, route tempos to befuddle DBs

  • Consistently won battles on the outside but also well-versed in slot

  • Extremely sure hands — only 11 drops on 338 career targets, per PFF

  • Highly, consistently productive — 100-plus yards receiving in 17 of 29 career games

  • Turned in a 240-yard effort vs. gifted Iowa D — most Hawkeyes have ever allowed to single receiver

  • Caught about 30% of Purdue's passes last season — had target on his back and still produced

  • Productive with and without Rondale Moore on field in 2019-2020

  • Has shown some effectiveness as a runner in limited handoffs

  • Works back to the ball well on scramble drills

  • Tough and durable — played through pain and rarely missed snaps, games

  • Good competitor — battles for the ball game in and game out

Downside

  • Limited athletic traits — average to below-average physical skills

  • Combine workouts were even worse than expected

  • Will never be able to consistently take top off the defense

  • Physically blessed corners will be able to get the jump on him most times

  • Not terribly explosive or sudden

  • Blocking effort is good enough but results are sub-par

  • Strictly a possession receiver and might lack quicks for slot duty

  • Desire might only take him so far in the league

  • Almost no special-teams reps on tape in college

Best-suited destination

Bell is such an interesting case study, and his eye-popping production warrants a long look. But he's got to fit in a place where he's not the go-to option, perhaps paired with a speed option opposite him. Bell can play inside and out, and he might be the exception to the rule when it comes to receivers lacking notable physical traits. His competitive temperament and knack for finding creases can still translate at the next level.

Did you know

Bell received significant recruiting attention coming out of high school, but he had decided that he wanted to play close enough to home in Indianapolis so his disabled grandmother could watch him play. That was a big reason why he ended up at Purdue.

“The No. 1 reason was my grandmother,” Bell told The Athletic. “She’s handicapped, and I wanted her to come to as many games as possible. She’s never missed a game since I first started playing football in first grade. I just wanted that tradition to stay alive.”

Player comp

Allen Hurns

Expected draft range

Rounds 3-4