Jaheim Bell could be a secret weapon for the Patriots this upcoming season

The New England Patriots selected Florida State Seminoles tight end Jaheim Bell (6)  in the seventh round of the NFL Draft.
The New England Patriots selected Florida State Seminoles tight end Jaheim Bell (6) in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. / Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots started a new tradition last season when they unveiled the new lighthouse at the north end of the stadium. Before every home game, a new guest rings a bell at the top of the lighthouse before the game.

If things go well on the field, quarterback Drake Maye will ring up tight end Jaheim Bell in the endzone frequently.

Bell averaged 13.3 yards per reception in his career. That’s just 1.2 yards less than Georgia’s Brock Bowers’ average, who was by far and wide the best tight end of the 2024 class. The Las Vegas Raiders selected the 6-3 243-pound Bowers in the first round, while the Patriots snagged Bell in the seventh.

According to several experts, Bell should have been selected sooner, and he will prove that analysis right, as long as he’s used correctly. Think of Bell as Jonnu Smith with the Tennessee Titans or Atlanta Falcons. If the Patriots toy with Bell in a similar fashion, he will be productive.

The New England Patriots got a versatile weapon in Jaheim Bell that could be an offensive chess piece

Jaheim Bell is listed as a tight end, but he’s much more than that. Usually, he will have a hand on the ground, lined up next to the offensive tackle. Other times, he could be in a three-point stance in the backfield or split out wide with the receivers. And don’t be surprised if Bell is put in motion.

Coaches can have a lot of fun with the rookie.

Being undersized for the position likely hurt Bell’s draft stock, but if he were rated by his tape and production, it would be a very different story. He was a hybrid TE/RB for South Carolina and tied with Josh Vann for the Gamecocks’ lead in receiving touchdowns with five in 2021 while averaging 16.6 yards per reception. That’s higher than any of Bowers’ per-season averages with the Bulldogs.

Bell stands out with the ball in his hands, displaying outstanding balance and strength while breaking tackles and using his power for extra yardage. The following year, the Gamecocks played him more like a ball carrier instead of a receiving threat, which hurt his efficiency.

He transferred to Florida State for the 2023 season and had his best year as a receiver, recording 39 passes for 503 yards and two scores while adding one TD on the ground.

It was in Tallahassee that Bell had the best chance to show off his ability in the passing game. For the Seminoles, he worked all areas of the passing game. Florida State went to the tight end for quick screens for yards after the catch and running seam routes past linebackers.

That makes sense, as Bell ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine with a 1.58 10-yard split. That was good for third and fourth-overall tight ends participating in the Combine.

Bell's style is similar to a former successful tight end in New England

With the Patriots, the ideal role for a player of his skillset would be receiver, with a healthy dose of Bell out of the backfield. Think of him used similarly to Aaron Hernandez when New England built a highly entertaining and prolific offense with a primarily two-tight end set with Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

That offense lasted just three seasons, but the on-field results were spectacular. The Patriots finished first in points in 2010, third in 2011, and first again in 2012. New England tried to recreate that, but those attempts either paled in comparison or just plain failed.

Now, to be fair, I am biased. I’m the guy who wanted the Patriots to draft NC State’s Jaylen Samuels in 2018 and was excited about the 2020 NFL Draft selection of Dalton Keene. Unfortunately, neither made an impact in the NFL.

Hopefully, it will be different for Bell. While most people already have high expectations for the two receivers selected (second-round draft pick Ja’Lynn Polk from Washington and fourth-round pick Javon Baker from the University of Central Florida), Bell’s potential is being underrated.

If the Patriots follow the blueprint the Titans and Falcons used with Jonnu Smith, Bell should have plenty of opportunities to thrive in New England’s offense while keeping defenses guessing.