clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2022 Cowboys scouting report: Florida A&M S Markquese Bell

Could the Cowboys look to beef up their safety room?

North Carolina Central v Florida A&M Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

With the NFL Draft getting closer and closer, here is a look at Florida A&M safety Markquese Bell, who the Cowboys are bringing in as one of their top 30 pre-draft visits.

Name: Markquese Bell
Position: S
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 212 pounds

Combine Results: 4.41 40-yard dash, 36.5” vertical jump, 123” broad jump, 4.46 short shuttle

Markquese Bell has had a fascinating path in his football career thus far. A native of New Jersey, Bell became an impact player on both offense and defense in high school en route to being a highly recruited 4-star prospect. Bell committed to Maryland, an impressive get for the program, but he was suspended by the school before he ever got to play for them. The reason for the suspension was never publicized, but it resulted in Bell leaving the school.

Bell spent a year at a junior college in Kansas before generating interest from several Power 5 schools. Ultimately, though, Bell chose to transfer to Florida A&M out of his desire to play for a historically black college/university (HBCU). The move ended up working out, as Bell played extremely well while his Rattlers teams won nine games in each of his two years with the program.

Bell didn’t play in 2020, as Florida A&M took the year off due to COVID-19, but he had sensational years in both 2019 and 2021. The Rattlers played a multiple, hybrid defense that gave Bell exposure to a wide variety of defensive styles, which he excelled at. That was enough to get him an invite to the NFL combine, where his performance only increased scouts’ interest in the safety.

Range: Bell has great range, especially for how big his frame is. Florida A&M gave him experience as a deep safety in single-high looks, working in split-safety shells, and in the box. He excelled in all those areas, showing the ability to get wherever he needed to in time. Bell’s combine performance showcased his explosion and elite long speed - both his 40-yard dash time and its 10-yard split were in the 96th percentile of safeties in attendance - which goes into his ability to play in coverage on the back end.

Playmaking Ability: Bell’s first year at Florida A&M saw him lead the team and conference in interceptions with five. He had just one this past year, although it wasn’t for lack of ability. Bell has great size and length and he plays aggressively through the catch point. He has a nose for the ball, which can occasionally get him in trouble, but he makes up for with big plays.

Athleticism: Bell is an elite athlete, which shouldn’t be surprising for a former 4-star recruit. This was emphasized at the FCS level, where he often looked like the fastest one on the field. But it’s not just due to the competition level, as Bell finished in the top ten of safeties in every category he tested in at the combine. He’ll have no problem keeping up with the speed of the NFL.

Run Support: Some people will see the way Bell plays the run and assume he’s just a box safety. That would pigeonhole a very versatile player, but it’s a testament to how great Bell is at playing the run. In fact, it might be his best trait. He’s explosive when he triggers downfield and manages to come flying in without sacrificing his angles. Bell is also a thumper, and he’s had several massive hits during his time with the Rattlers.

Processing: This is easily Bell’s weakest part of his game. It’s not to say that he’s not smart - Bell’s ability to thrive in Florida A&M’s complex hybrid defense proves he understands the game well. But Bell can get too caught up in trying to make the big play that he misses the forest for the trees. His eye discipline, in particular, needs to improve significantly at the NFL level, where quarterbacks are much better at moving defenders with their eyes.

Intangibles: The lack of clarity around Bell’s suspension at Maryland complicates this evaluation, but Bell has maintained a clean track record since then. Teams will have to do their homework on his character, but it doesn’t seem to be a red flag as of now. As a player, Bell has a relentless work ethic and plays through the whistle on every down.


The idea of putting a blue star on Bell’s helmet is very appealing for a few reasons. His hard-hitting style of play is reminiscent of Donovan Wilson; his risky ball skills that usually pay off in a big way are reminiscent of Trevon Diggs; and his ability to thrive as a chess piece in the secondary is reminiscent of Jayron Kearse. That’s not to say he’ll turn out like those players, but he has similarities in his game to all three of them.

Bell isn’t a plug-and-play guy, either. He needs to get better eye discipline and be just a little more refined in his techniques before he can be in the discussion to be a starter. The good thing is that Bell’s tenacity should translate well to special teams while he develops. Bell is likely to be a late Day 3 pick, with the fifth or sixth round as the most realistic time for him to be selected. Luckily for Dallas, they have five picks between those two rounds.