Why the Slide?: Jaheim Bell, TE, Florida State

This series was created a number of years ago in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

Aside from Georgia star Brock Bowers, the 2024 NFL Draft was known to be a weak year for tight end talent. Bowers was a lock to go in the top 16, but after him, it was going to be a long wait for another tight end to get drafted. Former South Carolina and Florida State tight end Jaheim Bell was considered to be in the running to be a mid-round pick to offer some team a receiving tight end from the middle portion of the draft. Bell was a real weapon in 2023, catching 39 passes for 503 yards and two touchdowns. He also had an impressive rushing score against LSU. Bell had the potential to produce more, but the Seminoles spread the ball around to players like Keon Coleman, Johnny Wilson and Trey Benson. Thus, it was a shock when Bell slid to the seventh round.

Team sources told WalterFootball.com that a combination of factors led to Bell’s slide. The first issue was that Bell, at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, is very undersized for the NFL. That is going to lead to blocking issues that Bell will never be able to overcome. In order for a tight end to be a legit receiving weapon, they have to at least be able to contribute some as a pass protector and block the C-gap. Bell’s skill-set limitations were why he slid in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The New England Patriots ended Bell’s slide, which was a good landing spot. The Patriots are desperate for some receiving weapons to emerge and develop for new quarterback Drake Maye. Bell will not compete for a starting job given the presence of veterans Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper, but Bell could compete to be the third tight end right away. Bell will have to earn a roster spot in the preseason by outplaying the likes of Mitchell Wilcox and La’Michael Pettway. That is not utterly impossible, so Bell could stick with the Patriots. He will need to show that he can contribute some as a blocker and overcome the size issue, which some other tight ends have done in the past. Bell landed with a good opportunity to make the Patriots and carve out an NFL career.


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