David Bell is a rookie the Cleveland Browns have high hopes for.
He was a third-round pick in April’s NFL draft out of Purdue University, and the Browns’ coaching staff seems to think highly of the young wide receiver.
Wide receiver is a position that is somewhat of a question mark for the team, as there aren’t any proven options behind Amari Cooper, a four-time Pro Bowler.
Alas, Bell suffered a foot injury and is now on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list just ahead of the official start of training camp.
The good news is that he could be cleared to practice in a couple of weeks.
#Browns rookie WR David Bell is one of a small group of players who will begin camp on active/PUP. His foot injury is not serious and he should begin practicing soon
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) July 22, 2022
Luckily, the Browns have multiple other candidates to become their WR2 behind Cooper.
Bell’s Injury Will Create An Opportunity For Two Other Wideouts
The silver lining with injuries, especially minor injuries such as the one Bell has, is that it opens up opportunities for players who are behind on the depth chart to get more playing time and prove they are better players than previously thought.
For Cleveland and its wide receivers, it means two players in particular: Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz.
Other than Bell, they are the two likeliest players to become the Browns’ second option in the air after Cooper.
Peoples-Jones, in the eyes of some, has the best chance, at least based on what he has shown, especially last season.
He put up 597 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games, and he flashed his speed and playmaking ability at times during the 2021 campaign.
Holy smokes. Baker Mayfield launches a Hail Mary and Donovan Peoples-Jones comes down with it! pic.twitter.com/EucELAu2lq
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 17, 2021
DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES! Wow.
Browns up 21-7. pic.twitter.com/tLocHIwdUy
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) November 7, 2021
Peoples-Jones is an impressive athlete, and if Deshaun Watson is able to play at all this season, it’s easy to imagine him elevating his production.
A concern is his catch rate, which was just 58.6 percent in 2021 after being at a solid 70.0 percent in 2020, his rookie season.
Schwartz had just 135 yards and one touchdown in 14 games last season, and although, like Peoples-Jones, he possesses lots of speed, he struggled to a certain extent.
He caught only 43.5 percent of the passes that were thrown his way in 2021, which is a very poor mark.
However, Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt had some nice things to say about Schwartz several weeks ago.
#Browns Alex Van Pelt said Anthony Schwartz is catching the ball well so far and showing improvement from last season.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) June 1, 2022
General manager Andrew Berry seems to understand that patience must be exercised when evaluating draft picks, and when one considers how well he has drafted in recent years, it wouldn’t be surprising if Schwartz suddenly puts it all together either this season or next.
A Quick Look At Bell’s Potential
Many feel Bell has all the tools needed to become an impact receiver down the road.
He has a good pair of hands, plus the ability to make tough catches, whether he is being tightly covered or the pass is a bit off and he has to extend his arms or body to corral the ball.
Bell also has the ability to add extra yardage after the catch, a quality that seems to separate great wideouts from ones who are merely good.
Hopefully this year the Browns will have much better luck on the injury front than they had last year.