The Cleveland Browns had a puncher's chance to bring back Jarvis Landry. Instead, they went younger.
The good news: They also satisfied the desires of their head coach. Kevin Stefanski revealed he's had his eye on former Purdue receiver David Bell since he first sat down to study the 2022 class, and was thrilled when Cleveland spent the 99th-overall selection on him.
"You were the first guy I watched, and right away I was like 'we need to get this guy,'" Stefanski told Bell in an introductory meeting shown in the team's "Building the Browns" docuseries. "You can ask our GM, I was like, 'This day needs to end with David Bell on our team.'
"Just your ability to catch the ball, which I think is the best in the draft, your ability to get open and just who you are as a person fits who we are."
It's easy to see how the Browns envision Bell fitting into their offense. A quick skim of Bell's tape evokes memories of Landry -- now a member of the New Orleans Saints -- working the field underneath with sharp routes and sure hands, and Bell excels in the same areas. The two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection certainly owns the résumé needed to gain entry into the NFL, racking up 2,946 yards and 21 receiving touchdowns in his 29 collegiate games played with the Boilermakers.
The biggest knock on Bell came down to his recorded explosiveness (or lack thereof). He didn't post a blazing fast 40-yard dash time (4.65) at the NFL Scouting Combine, but is a polished receiver Stefanski envisions deploying to create opportunities for the Browns' new-look offense. And if we're to continue with the Landry comparisons, Bell's 40 time is still better than Landry's 2014 combine 40-yard dash time of 4.77 seconds -- and look at how things turned out for the five-time Pro Bowler (and only player in NFL history with 80-plus catches in each of his first six seasons).
Cleveland will look to insert Bell in the space previously dominated by Landry from 2018-2021, but isn't going to immediately expect the same type of production. There's a silver -- or gold, if we're keeping the Purdue theme going -- lining within this projection, too: He doesn't have to be a massive producer. Cleveland's acquisition of Amari Cooper filled that need, while Bell can look to create opportunities when called upon.
It's the perfect situation in Bell's eyes.
"I don't wish I went a little bit higher [in the draft]," Bell said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. "God put me in this perfect situation. Come to the Browns. Be in a phenomenal offense. Got a great run game, a great passing game and arguably the best quarterback in the league right now.
"So I'm just really looking forward for the opportunity to get out there, and hopefully I have that chance to start at Week 1."
With experience playing outside, an expectation to fill the void at slot and his coach's passionate belief in him, Bell will see plenty of chances.