close
close

Jaheim Bell brings explosiveness and versatility to Patriots tight end room

Although he is undersized, the upside to Bell is that he is very athletic for a tight end. Bell posted a Relative Athletic Score of 8.43 out of ten at the NFL Combine. The Pats tight end’s 4.61-second 40-yard dash ranks in the 75th percentile for weight-adjusted speed score, while he was tied for third-fastest among tight ends tight at this year’s combine.

Nagy agreed with Thomsen’s assessment, adding: “This guy can legitimately go down the seam. They probably haven’t done as much of that with him as they would at the NFL level. He can really stretch sewing.”

The other thing Bell brings to the offense is his ability to run after the catch and produce planned touches. With his experience as a running back, Bell averaged 8.1 yards while breaking 12 tackles after the catch last season. Van Pelt is expected to install a system of misdirection and play action, setting up horizontal foot races for players like Bell. With Bell, the idea might be to get the ball back in his hands and leave room to run.

“Of course you can involve him in that, on the leaks and the shallows and all those things,” Nagy said. When he has the ball in his hands, he can play. He’s sturdy.”

In addition to stretching the seam and carrying the ball, Thomsen added that Bell will contribute on special teams. As a projected third tight end, Bell will need to play in the kicking game to make the 53-man roster and carve out a role on game day. For Thomsen, this is one of the strengths of Bell’s game.

“The other thing too is his special teams skillset is elite because he can run in space and he’s physical. So he checks the boxes for what you’re looking for in a elite special teams player, that’s where he can provide a ton of value for the team,” Thomsen said.

My next question to Thomsen was what he thought about Bell’s kickoff returns under the new NFL rules. With kickoffs now evolving toward a skill of reading and bursting through the line, Bell’s vision, contact balance and explosiveness could be effective.

“Yeah, he could do that. He can do pretty much anything you want him to do on a football field,” Thomsen responded.

Finally, Thomsen described the behind-the-scenes worker the Patriots are recruiting in Bell, emphasizing his professionalism even at the college level. Specifically, Thomsen mentioned a stretch in which Bell suffered an ankle injury last season.

“He was in the building at 6 a.m. getting treatment. After practice was over, he ate breakfast, went to take care of academics, and then he spent two hours in the training room afterward. -noon,” Thomson said. Then he studied the game plan. He returned home around 5 p.m. I felt like he was a guy who approached this like a pro.”

The Patriots’ restricted room includes incumbent Hunter Henry and free agent Austin Hooper. Both veterans provide reliability, with Henry being a QB-friendly security blanket and Hooper having experience in Van Pelt’s offense from their time together in Cleveland.

However, Bell brings an element of explosive play that both veterans don’t have at this point. Bell is the fastest seam runner and most dynamic running back in this group. Additionally, he is a very versatile blocker who can give the Patriots a chess piece as a fullback or in an old-school H-Back role.

There is a clear and valuable role in Bell’s ability to play a significant role for this seventh round, not only to make the Patriots’ roster, but also to make an offensive impact in New England.