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Purdue’s David Bell can solve the Colts’ issues at wide receiver

Adding a premiere pass-catcher should be one of the Colts biggest priorities during the offseason.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts are still in the hunt for a playoff spot as the stellar efforts of Jonathan Taylor and the defense have consistently kept Indianapolis alive. A win against the Jaguars in Jacksonville in Week 18 would seal the deal for the Colts and send them to the playoffs for the second straight season.

Jonathan Taylor is putting together a historic campaign, and as the season draws near an end, opposing teams have started to load the box to limit his impact. It makes sense for the Colts to make Taylor the focus on offense, but the Colts’ limited resources at the wide receiver position have left the franchise unable to capitalize on what the opposing defenses have been conceding in the passing game.

Adding a playmaker at the wide receiver position should be one of the Colts' biggest priorities during the offseason. Behind Michael Pittman Jr., who’s enjoying a breakout sophomore campaign and leads the team with 1018 receiving yards, the second-ranked player in receiving yards is fourth-year pass-catcher Zach Pascal with just 377. Behind Pascal, there’s only one more player who has eclipsed 300 receiving yards, and that’s Jonathan Taylor.

Zach Pascal and T.Y. Hilton are both set to become unrestricted free agents, leaving only Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell. Campbell hasn’t been able to play more than 7 games in a season since he was drafted in 2019. The Colts also have a young collection of depth options made up of Ashton Dulin, Dezmon Patmon, and Mike Strachan.

While adding multiple receivers this offseason would be ideal, the Colts could start addressing the need with their 2nd round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. This will be the highest pick for the Colts as they will send their first-rounder to Philadelphia according to the terms of the trade for Carson Wentz. If the Colts decide to follow this path, Purdue’s wide receiver David Bell has the traits to help Indianapolis fill the glaring hole left at the position.

A Junior pass catcher who has already declared for the Draft, David Bell has been one of the most dominant and consistent receivers in the Big 10 during his career with the Boilermakers. Bell put together a jaw-dropping true Freshman season, which saw him collect 1035 receiving yards. His production in his Sophomore and Junior seasons culminated in his inclusion as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the best wide receiver in College Football.

The Colts front office love investing in big wide receivers, as Pittman Jr., Pascal, Campbell, Strachan, Dulin, and Patmon are all 6’2” or taller. According to Purdue’s website, David Bell is 6’2”, 205 pounds but Combine measurements will have to confirm it.

The former Boilermaker brings a complete skill set: he shows the ability to consistently win at the line of scrimmage with advanced technical refinement and multiple effective releases. Bell is an excellent route runner who’s dangerous at all three levels of the defense, and he has shown the ability to win contested catches with elite ball skills and body control. Perhaps more important for the Colts is to find someone who’s creative and dangerous after the catch, as Indianapolis ranks 28th in the NFL with only 1586 yards after the catch on the season. While David Bell isn’t a burner, he has underrated speed and burst, and he showed an ability to turn multiple slants and quick-outs into touchdowns during his college career.

At Purdue, Bell has been utilized in numerous ways. When splitting the field with Arizona Cardinals Rondale Moore, Bell was often aligned as the X-receiver, the position that currently belongs to Michael Pittman Jr. As he developed, Bell has often played as the Z-receiver, the position that T.Y. Hilton mastered during his career in Indianapolis. He also sometimes played in the slot to take advantage of his physicality against slot corners or his speed against linebackers.

Some receiver prospects with promising traits failed to have a history of consistent production, but this isn’t the case for Bell. He averaged 97.8 receiving yards per game in 25 appearances and 110.8 receiving yards per game in the six games against ranked opponents.

Bell would bring the Colts much-needed versatility, playmaking ability, and reliability that should allow Carson Wentz to take a step forward in what would be his second season in Indianapolis.

While David Bell could hear his name called before the Colts pick comes around, this is a deep and talented receiver class. Adding the former Boilermaker would be a huge addition for Indianapolis and could help turn the passing game around. Bell has the tools to become a premiere playmaker at the NFL level while fitting one of the Colts' biggest needs.