The Cleveland Browns are going to field a new-look exciting offense in 2022. Browns General Manager Andrew Berry spent the offseason largely revamping an underperforming offense that managed to score just 20.5 points per game in 17 regular-season contests in 2021. Berry’s aggressive intentions to transform the Browns into annual contenders were especially signaled by his recent acquisitions of Deshaun Watson at quarterback and Amari Cooper at wide receiver. While Watson and Cooper are unsurprisingly dominating the local headlines in Cleveland while forming a quarterback-receiver duo that promises to spearhead a new era of Browns football, head coach Kevin Stefanski is particularly excited about Browns rookie receiver David Bell, who the team secured with the No. 99 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. With a lack of overall pass-catching depth coming into question opposite Cooper, Bell appears poised for a major role in his rookie season.
Browns Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta recently revealed Stefanski’s obsession with Bell as a prospect while making a notable appearance on the team’s in-house radio network. Drafting Bell was a direct request from Stefanski, who may quickly insert the Indiana native into a starting lineup that features an elite signal-caller and potential high-octane passing attack. Bell has joined a receiver room that features little in the form of proven talent outside of Cooper.
Donovan Peoples-Jones returns to the boundary as the primary receiver likely to flank Cooper, but Peoples-Jones failed to take full advantage of an expanded role last season. Sophomore-to-be-Anthony Schwartz is a deep vertical threat that has yet to flash the polish necessary to command an every-down role. It’s a situation that sets up nicely for Bell to make an immediate impact.
The departure of Jarvis Landry, who the Browns released earlier this offseason in order to save an abundance of money against the 2022 salary cap, especially plays favorably into the likelihood of Bell’s chances to carve out an immediate role for himself while endearing himself to Watson. Releasing Landry created a sizable hole at the slot position for the Browns, a spot Bell is now expected to command as a first-year player.
Bell primarily played outside at Purdue, but he did earn several snaps in the slot. Bell’s path to quickly earning an every-down role in the slot is rather straightforward. It’s more so a matter of him learning the playbook in an efficient manner and understanding his role within the offense.
It’s relatively easy to comprehend why Stefanski developed an appreciation for Bell’s skill set while personally scouting him throughout the pre-draft process. On tape, Bell is a highly advanced route-runner that utilizes a diverse release package which allows him to separate from coverage and create easy throwing lanes for his quarterback on an extremely consistent basis. Bell showcases the awareness necessary to attack leverage. He also understands how to work back to the football and tiptoe the sideline like a pro.
Bell’s game also features above-the-rim ability, routinely showcasing the wherewithal to make late adjustments to the football in traffic. Bell’s mastery helped him compile 93 receptions for 1,286 yards and six touchdowns en route to capturing the 2021 Fred Biletnikoff Award while also being named a consensus first-team All-American selection.
The Browns are undeniably entering the 2022 campaign with the weight of massive expectations on their shoulders as they aim to dethrone the Cincinnati Bengals as the AFC North champions. The shocking offseason acquisition of Watson has reshuffled the fan base’s belief in the franchise’s ability to make an immediate run at a Super Bowl. While much of the attention is understandably being spotlighted on Watson and Cooper, don’t be surprised if receiving a sizable first-year contribution from Bell becomes the key to fully unlocking Cleveland’s potential sky’s-the-limit success in 2022.
- Jun 24, 2022
- Jun 24, 2022