Asset in pass coverage in the deep part of the field
Speed; covers ground around the field
Solid in run support
Can prevent separation in man downfield
Can contribute to covering slot receivers as a nickel corner
Can help on receiving tight ends and running backs
Very good in zone coverage
Reads a quarterbacks' eyes
Takes good angles
Covers a lot of ground in the middle of the field
Can play zone or man schemes
Reliable as the last line of defense
Keeps plays in front of him
Could contribute on special teams
Should be able to play quickly
Experienced and successful against good college talent
Could use more strength to tackle
A little short
Lacks ideal length
Summary: In the passing-driven NFL, safety play is critical even though the position has been devalued in the NFL draft to an extent. Teams need safeties who can help cover receiving tight ends, play-making receivers, and stop the run. Bell is a talented, versatile safety who is practically made for the current style of play in the NFL. He really projects as a coverage safety to defend the deep middle of the field.
Bell saw the field as a freshman, and broke out with a huge 2014 season for the Buckeyes. In helping Ohio State to a National Championship, Bell totaled six interceptions with 92 tackles and six passes broken up. In 2015, Bell played well in 2015 with two interceptions, 65 tackles and nine passes broken up.
For the NFL, Bell fits well as a free safety. He has the speed and athleticism to cover in the deep part of the field and is a rangy center fielder who be the last line of defense and take away the deep part of the field. Bell has the cover skills to line up in man on slot receivers, tight ends down the seam, and running backs out of the backfield. Bell also has good ball skills and instincts to get him in position to make plays on the ball. He could be a good turnover producer. Given the passing-driven pro game, Bell is a very good fit for free safety.
Some team sources feel that Bell was not very physical and they wanted to see him be more aggressive as a tackler. He could stand to add a little more strength to function as a strong safety and for tackling NFL ball-carriers, especially running backs when they get to the second level. He also could serve as a free safety 100 percent of the time. In coverage on tight ends and big receivers, Bell could be beaten due to a lack of height and catches being made over him. However, he is a solid cover safety who could play quickly in the NFL.
In the 2016 NFL Draft, multiple teams say they project Bell to be an early second-round pick.
Player Comparison: Reggie Nelson. Nelson is more physical than Bell, but both are good center fielders. Nelson had a career-high eight interceptions last year and has produced quality interception totals in his other seasons. Nelson (5-11, 210) and Bell are almost identical in size. In the NFL, I could see Bell being a coverage safety like Nelson.
NFL Matches: Pittsburgh, Carolina, Tennessee, San Diego, Miami, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Oakland, Indianapolis and Washington
Late in the first round, Bell could be in play for the Steelers. He would be a good scheme fit with them. They need to upgrade Will Allen, and Bell would bring a coverage to the defensive backfield.
A few picks later, the Panthers could consider Bell. His athleticism and deep center-field skills would fit help Carolina's defense.
At the top of the second round, the Titans could consider Bell as they dropped too low to land Jalen Ramsey barring a big trade up in Round 1. San Diego lost Eric Weddle in free agency and may not land Ramsey in the first round. Taking Bell early in the top of the second round would make sense for whichever team doesn't land Ramsey.
Miami played corner-turned-safety Walt Aikens last year, and he had some struggles with that. Landing a safety upgrade next to Reshad Jones would make sense. The Bucs badly need to upgrade their secondary at both corner and safety. Bell would make a lot of sense for Tampa Bay in the second round.
In California, the Rams lost Rodney McLeod in free agency, and that leaves a hole at safety in their defense. The Raiders have to replace Charles Woodson. Bell would be a quality replacement for Woodson if Oakland can land him in Round 2.
The Colts and Redskins need help at both defensive back positions. If Bell slides in the second round, he would make sense for Indianapolis or Washington.