BEREA, Ohio — Former Cleveland Browns receiver Jarvis Landry Finally, he found his next team. Meanwhile, the Browns are hopeful that in rookie David Bell, they’ve found their next Landry.
Going into last month’s draft, Cleveland faced a massive hole in an otherwise loaded offense. In March, Landry, who was an anchor for Browns since 2018, and had been operating below coverage, was let go by the team.
Landry, however, is not yet dead. expressed interest In returning to Cleveland under a revised deal. The Browns had other plans. Two weeks before Landry would sign with the New Orleans SaintsBell was drafted by Cleveland in the third round, along with the No. 99 overall pick.
Provided they don’t trade for another veteran this summer, the Browns are betting Bell can step into Landry’s role out of the slot.
“A very competitive player,” coach Kevin Stefanski said of Bell after Cleveland’s first minicamp practice on May 13. “Catches the ball really well … a natural competitiveness both in route-running and in route-catching — the ability to make contested catches and the ability in the route-running game to set people up [to get open].”
Replacing Landry, a Pro Bowl performer for Cleveland in 2018 and 2019, won’t be easy for Bell or the Browns. Since he entered the NFL in 2014, Landry’s 423 catches and 4,895 receiving yards out of the slot top the NFL over that span, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That said, Bell, whom Stefanski has praised for both his “savviness,” has the potential to also thrive as Cleveland’s go-to possession receiver out of the slot.
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“All the receivers in our room, they have their own unique talents,” Bell said after his first minicamp practice, when asked about his fit alongside Clevel starting outside receivers, Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. “I think mine is being able to find the soft spot in the defense.”
Last season, a Big Ten conference featured many future first-round receivers including Ohio State stars Garrett Wilson Chris Olave, it was Bell who was named the league’s receiver of the year.
The All-American Purdue player finished 2021 with 93 receptions, 1,286 yards and six touchdowns. In a victory over No. 2, he racked up 240 receiving yards. 2 Iowa on October 16. Then 217 receiving yards in the win over then-No. Bell is the only player in 25 years to have multiple 200-yard receiving wins against top-five Associated Press players in the same season.
On top of that, the 6-2, 205-pound Bell led all of FBS with 232 receptions over his final three seasons with the Boilermakers, which included an FBS-high 67 catches on shallow or crossing routes, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“We thought he had some of the best hands in this draft class,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said during the draft. “He’s also very savvy as a route-runner, just very nuanced and polished [with] The ability to seperate. We think he’s a guy who can really play both outside and inside, but we think that he can really make a living with his size, his savvy and his hands in the slot.”
Despite his production, Bell's availability on Day 2 was due to his speed. Bell’s 40-yard-dash time at the combine was just 4.65 seconds, tied for second-slowest of any receiver in attendance. Bell fared even worse during Purdue’s pro day on March 29, posting a 40 time of just 4.71 seconds.
That didn’t stop the Browns from taking a chance on Bell, who can look no further than Landry to know that combine 40 time doesn’t necessarily dictate pro success. Landry ran a 4.65 at the combine back on 2014 (though he would later post a 4.51 for his LSU pro-day).
Berry noted that Bell is not the fastest player in NFL. He has the tools to succeed at the next level, just like Landry.
“Everybody loves speed across the field, but there are also fast guys that really don’t have the route-running ability to actually separate,” Berry said. “Good receivers come in different shapes and sizes. … We think he has a skillset that is playable in the NFL, and we’re happy to have him.”