A 6-foot-3 tight end by trade, the positional versatility of South Carolina’s Jaheim Bell has drawn the attention of NFL eyes. A physically impressive talent whose chess-piece-like skill set has seen him go from flex talent to the leader in the Gamecocks’ backfield, his path to the pros has become clear via his offensive versatility.
— Recruiting Analytics (@RAanalytics) December 30, 2021
Bell is electric in open space and his fundamental athletic profile remains one of the most eye-popping in the country. After totaling just six snaps in the backfield in 2021, his 47 carries thus far in 2022 have added a new wrinkle to his game defenses have had to counter.
While South Carolina has had no issue in recruiting running backs over the last few years, a lack of pop on the ground ushered Bell adjacent to quarterback Spencer Rattler. While the Oklahoma transfer under center was initially looked upon as a talent that was supposed to provide a breath of fresh air into a struggling offensive group, head coach Shane Beamer has been forced to get creative in a dog-eat-dog SEC.
JAHEIM BELL HOUSE CALL
“Pour some mayo on me, baby!” 😂 pic.twitter.com/Z2jfGrFRHi
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 30, 2021
The biggest question that has remained with Bell, however, is his production. And while lighting up box scores isn’t the be-all-end-all to an evaluation, it holds weight in draft rooms. And the expansion of Bell’s game, as much as it’s come from Beamer, has come from scouts looking for more. Really, it’s come out of nowhere.
While South Carolina’s opening week win over Georgia State saw Bell holster seven carries, his role in the run game was non-existent until the Gamecocks traveled to Vanderbilt just a few weeks ago. Despite the presence of Juju McDowell, Christian Beal-Smith, and MarShawn Lloyd, it’s been Bell who’s had his name called to overtake the laundry list of talent Beamer has had at his disposal. While many outliers have affected the aforementioned running backs’ effectiveness this season—Lloyd hasn’t played in two weeks and didn’t travel to Florida—it’s Bell’s show moving forward.
While his move to the backfield has thrown a small wrench in the evaluation as he is projected as an ideal flex weapon on Sundays, versatility remains king in the NFL. It’s about mismatches and finding matchups to exploit. For Bell, a talent who doesn’t just check but bolds all the boxes athletically, the ways in which he can affect a defense have continued to expand. Whether it’s a designated touch in wildcat, a handoff via Rattler, or a target when aligned in the slot, there may not be a more dramatic usage switch in college football than Bell’s workload over the last two weeks.
Bell is doing things away from what he was expected to, executing at a position he’s never played before at a high level, and did this all while being thrown into the fire against SEC defenses. Moving forward, his time in the backfield will be a flash in the pan in his overall career arc, but his willingness—and elite athleticism—to holster a struggling Gamecocks run game has lifted Jaheim Bell’s status among the country’s most flexible offensive weapons and versatile talents in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
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