There are few coaches that I dislike more than Jim Harbaugh.
Admittedly, it’s an irrational feeling which is completely and utterly rooted in something that isn’t really his fault . . .
Harbaugh used to coach the 49ers.
The man is forever “tainted” in my book - which sort of sucks because I was born in Michigan and love the Wolverines.
Such is life.
My passionate disliking of Harbaugh notwithstanding, I will reluctantly admit that the man is one heckuva coach . . .
. . . and he’s sent a lot of players to the NFL.
Note: We’ll come back to this at the end of the article because there are definitely some connections to the Seahawks.
One of the players that Harbaugh might be sending to the NFL this year is Wide Receiver Ronnie Bell.
According to a report (aka tweet) from Aaron Wilson, who covers the Houston Texans, Seattle met with Bell during Michigan’s Pro Day.
Sources: @UMichFootball wide receiver Ronnie Bell visits #Patriots #Lions #Chiefs, worked out for #Patriots #Lions #49ers #Saints, plus campus lunch at Pro Day with #Patriots, dinner with #Saints before Pro Day, and #49ers #Seahawks meetings @KPRC2https://t.co/0XY3zfe12w— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 15, 2023
So, who is Ronnie Bell and why does it matter that Seattle met with him a month ago?
I’m glad you asked!
Measurements and Testing Results
With the exception of Bell’s birthday, all of the measurements and testing results were pulled from NFLCombineResults.com.
- Age: Turned 23 on January 28th
- Height: 5 feet 11-5/8 inches
- Weight: 13.643 stone
- Arm Length: 31 inches
- Wingspan: 75 inches
- Hand size: 9-1/2 inches
Testing Results - NFL Combine
- 40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds
- 20-yard split: 2.57 seconds
- 10-yard split: 1.54 seconds
- 20-yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds
- Three cone: 6.98 seconds
- Vertical leap: 38-1/2 inches
- Broad jump: 10 feet 0 inches
- Bench press: 14 reps
Testing Results - Pro Day
- 20-yard shuttle: 4.04 seconds (improvement of 0.11)
- Three cone: 6.62 seconds (improvement of 0.34)
The Scouting Report on Bell
From the Draft Network:
As a wide receiver prospect, you should expect a good route-runner and salesman. ... Bell fits the mold as a chain-moving receiver. His stop/start ability and body control allow him to generate yards after the catch. Bell brings versatility to an offense.
. . .
Bell has shown the ability to pluck passes away from his frame. Passes that are outside of his structure allowed him to display his ball skills. His basketball background shows up in his leaping ability to make those out-of-frame passes.
. . .
Despite his athleticism and speed, Bell has not developed into a reliable deep or vertical threat in his career.
From NFL Mock Draft Database:
Ronnie Bell is one of the smartest receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft. When watching him play, he seems to have a very good understanding of the game and how to win in every scenario. Bell is very good at diagnosing zone coverage and finding a seam for an easy reception. He is also good at identifying when his QB is under pressure and does a good job of working back toward them. Bell also shows lots of mental toughness to consistently perform in clutch situations like 3rd downs and 2-minute drills.
From the 33rd Team:
Ronnie Bell is a slender-built, speedy receiver with good quickness. He can get behind defenders and take the top off the defense. Bell needs to improve his hands and strength to become a reliable receiving option.
Health Status (& Stats)
Bell suffered a knee injury in 2021 (in the season opener). He had 1 catch for 76 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 31-yard punt return.
And then his season was over.
In late-July 2022, Jim Harbaugh said that Bell appeared to be “faster, stronger, in a lot of ways better than before the injury.”
Last season, Bell played in 14 games, had 62 receptions for 889 yards (14.3 average) with 4 TDs. Other than the average, those were all career highs.
Note: Bell’s average yards per catch in 2021 was 76.0; ain’t a lot of people that can beat that over the course of an entire season.
Heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, there’s no reason to think that the 2021 injury will have any impact on Bell’s status.
Note: For what it’s worth, Bell was Michigan’s leading receiver in each of his full healthy seasons (2019, 2020, and 2022).
Per the Draft Network, “Bell projects as a No. 3 wide receiver and return specialist early in his career.”
Note: Obviously, Seattle could us a WR3 that can return kicks and punts.
PFN’s 2023 Consensus Big Board has Bell as the #216 overall prospect and the 35th-best wide receiver in the 2023 class.
Bottom line: At best, Bell is probably a Day 3 pick. More realistically, he might be a player that John Schneider and Pete Carroll have atop their list as a “priority” undrafted free agent.
Bringing it back to Jim Harbaugh . . .
As noted in the intro to this article, I’m not exactly a “fan” of the current head coach of the Michigan Wolverines.
But . . .
Ignoring his time at the University of San Diego (which isn’t exactly an NFL breeding ground), Harbaugh has spent 12 years as a head coach of a “big time” college program - four years at Stanford, and eight years in Ann Arbor.
During those 12 years, he has recruited and/or coached seventy-one players who were either drafted by an NFL team or, in three instances, signed by an NFL team as an Undrafted Free Agent.
Seventy-one players !!!
The list of Stanford players was compiled on August 12th, 2015, and can be found HERE.
A partial list of Michigan players can be found HERE. That list is only through the 2021 draft though. I looked at Pro-Football-Reference to determine that there were five Wolverines selected last year.
I won’t dive into the lists too much, but there are a few players with connections to both Harbaugh and the Seahawks, including:
2 defensive backs:
- CB Richard Sherman (R5.154, 2011)
- S Delano Hill (R3.95, 2017)
2 wide receivers:
- WR Doug Baldwin (UDFA, 2011)
- WR Amara Darboh (R3.106, 2017)
Note: If anyone thinks that the entire point of talking about Jim Harbaugh in this article was so that I could drop the name Amara Darboh at the end . . .
Does that really sound like something I would do?