The 2022 NFL draft is behind us, and we can now shift our focus to team activities as the NFL season is just a few short months away. This will give everyone time to get familiar with this year’s crop of draft picks, as well as undrafted prospects that were acquired after the draft concluded.
Typically how things work around league circles is the higher a team drafts a player, the higher probability that player makes the team. The proverbial leash is much longer for draft picks than for undrafted free agents.
Lets focus in on the undrafted free agents that the Cowboys recently acquired. Why focus on players who typically don’t end up making the roster? Because there are two players in particular that have a tremendous shot at making the team this year. One on offense, and one on defense. This article will cover the defensive player, and the next article will cover the offensive player.
There was one player on defense who could’ve been a day three pick and that player is Florida A&M star safety, Markquese Bell. Lets check out his background.
Bell, who was a highly coveted Under-Armour All-American athlete in high school, played multiple positions that even included kicker and punter. He played on all three facets of the game which made him very appealing to the big-time schools during the recruiting process. As a 4-star prospect, and highly ranked player in the state of New Jersey, offers came in from programs like Ole Miss, Clemson, Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State just to name a few. He ended up committing to Maryland.
At Maryland, things didn’t go as planned as he never played a down with the Terps, and would later take the JUCO route to attend Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. After playing one season with the Red Ravens where he had two picks, he was then ready to make the jump back to the Division 1 level.
With an offer on the table from Nebraska, Bell decided to take another path to the NFL. He would end up committing to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and would start in 22 of 23 games played. While at Florida A&M he compiled 158 tackles along with five interceptions. Due to his strong performance in college, he became First-Team All-MEAC, First-Team All-SWAC, as well as a starter in the Reese’s Senior Bowl among other accolades.
Let’s talk about Bell from a scouting perspective. He is on the taller side for the safety position as he stands 6’2” tall. He also weighs 212 lbs. which is slightly above average for the position at the NFL level. His height and weight combination fits the bill for what NFL teams are looking for. He also ran a 4.4 40 yard dash during the NFL combine which is plenty fast by league standards.
Bell is a very physical player who seems to enjoy laying the wood while tackling. He has a real tenacity about his game. Just because a player has the tendency to hit his opponents in the mouth, it doesn’t always translate to being a good tackler. For Bell however, not only does he lay the wood, but he shows solid technique while tackling primarily in the open field. His football IQ is very sound, and generally knows exactly where to lower his shoulder or place his hands in order to cause a turnover.
Check out some of his highlights by clicking here.
Bell isn’t a perfect prospect. It’s more of a technical situation where he doesn’t look natural in his back pedal. He can at times get turned around too easily while in coverage. Those are technical flaws that can be coached up.
Bell has the size, speed, and athleticism to be a very good player in the NFL. With some seasoning under the tutelage of Al Harris, along with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, there is a good shot that they will get the most out of Bell. Again, he’s not there yet, but he has all the tools necessary to fit the bill. Until Bell refines some of the technical flaws, playing the big nickel role as a hybrid safety/linebacker would be ideal as he thrives in run support. Jayron Kearse plays this role tremendously well, and can also help bring him up to speed at the professional level. It’s going to be interesting to see what unfolds for Bell as the NFL season slowly starts creeping in.
Make sure to be on the look out for part two to see which undrafted free agent on the offensive side of the ball has the best shot at making the Cowboys in 2022.