Projecting Jaheim Bell’s stats with the Patriots in 2024 

The Patriots have drafted a player who can help out all of their quarterbacks. But have they realized?
Jun 10, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Jaheim Bell (88) makes a catch at minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Jaheim Bell (88) makes a catch at minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots failed to get full value from their third overall pick at the draft but cashed in on day three. Their last two picks look to be real stars. 

Joe Milton III is the most naturally gifted and poised quarterback of the class. But Jaheim Bell should be the Patriots’ secret weapon in 2024. 

Only Alex Van Pelt knows how he is going to use the rookie tight end. But one thing is sure: using Bell properly will make his quarterback’s job easier. 

Jaheim Bell's best attribute is his versatility

When used in a sporting context, “versatile” is often the label applied to someone who doesn’t stand out in one position, so they are forced to play in a few different ones. Bell is versatile because he is a threat in three different positions. 

Bell’s versatility will make it easy to disguise plays and allow the quarterback to check down to run plays at the line. He should be a key member of the offense, especially when one of the young quarterbacks is on the field. 

Bell started four games at running back for the South Carolina Gamecocks, but he doesn’t have the top-end speed of an NFL running back.

The 23-year-old's 40-yard dash time was in the 87th percentile of the tight end class, and his 124-inch broad jump was in the 93rd percentile! As much as that demonstrates his impressive athleticism, the Patriots shouldn't line him up exclusively at tight end.

During his final three years of college, he usually played as a tight end. However, he did line up at receiver sometimes and occasionally at H-back. The FSU product has a rare combination of size and speed. That makes it difficult for him to tackle when he has the ball and a useful blocker when he doesn't. 

The fact Bell can line up opposite defensive backs or defensive ends in one play means defensive coordinators won’t know which personnel to send out onto the field. 

Based on his play style, the Patriots may have found their own version of a current 49ers great

There’s only one current NFL player with similar physical attributes to Bell and who has lined up in various positions and that’s Kyle Juszczyk. “Juice,” as his friends call him, is a full back in title only. The Harvard graduate began his career as a running back in Baltimore but can also line up in the backfield to block or split out as a receiver. 

That’s how Van Pelt needs to use Bell. Bell is essentially the same size as Juszczyk; they’re both 6-foot-2 and Bell is just six pounds heavier at 241 pounds. The pair even ran similar 40-yard times at their respective combines. Eight-time Pro Bowler Juszczyk clocked 4.71 seconds compared to Bell’s 4.61. 

But, despite the apparent similarities, projecting Bell’s numbers based on Juszczyk is tricky. In his 11 seasons in the NFL, the economics graduate has notched up as many as 354 yards from scrimmage, but as a rookie, he only saw one target and didn’t catch it. 

The Ravens played Juszczyk as a running back in his rookie year, and he was sixth on the depth chart. Baltimore ended that season 8-8 and learned their lesson; he played almost twice as many snaps the following season. 

If the Patriots use Bell in a similar role to Juszczyk’s in San Francisco, his blocking will be as crucial as his ball skills. The former high-school wide receiver should also be a mainstay of the Patriots’ special teams unit, especially with the new kickoff rules. 

Juszczyk played 76% of the Ravens special teams snaps in his rookie year. And even though he’s gradually played fewer snaps each season, the former high school shot putter has featured on special teams every year. 

One area where Bell will have an edge over Juszczyk is in the red zone. Ohio-born Juszczyk was the first former Harvard player to score in a Super Bowl but averages just 1.9 touchdowns per season. During his four seasons in college, Bell averaged 3.5 scores per season, and this is where he should be Van Pelt’s secret weapon. 

The Patriots shouldn't use Bell just on offense

The seventh-rounder should play about 200 snaps with the special teams unit, filling the gap left by Pharaoh Brown’s departure. However, the versatility that allows him to alter position pre-snap will help the quarterback identify man coverage or zone defense.  

While Jacoby Brissett is old enough and wise enough to read defenses and adjust accordingly, the other three Patriots quarterbacks have only started eight games between them. They’re going to need some clues to differentiate man coverage from zone. 

Bell was once described as “Deebo 2.0”, but he won’t see as many snaps on offense as Samuel. You can expect him to see about 38 targets, but he should rack up around 450 receiving yards. 

While he probably won’t line up at running back for the Patriots, he should feature in the run game in some capacity. Van Pelt can use Bell either as the “up man” or in trick plays like the famous jet sweep touchdown he scored against LSU.  

Bell should see around 19 carries and finish the season with 104 rushing yards. He should also maintain his scoring average from college with four touchdowns. 

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