The Dallas Cowboys played inspired defense in 2021. A big reason why was the play at the safety position led by Jayron Kearse, who led the team with 101 tackles and all NFL safeties with 10 passes defended. Malik Hooker, another free-agent addition last year, came on strong at the end of the season after being worked in slowly due to coming off of an Achilles tear.
Kearse and Hooker both re-signed with the Cowboys for two years, and Donovan Wilson is entering a contract season which will give him plenty of motivation to go bonkers in 2022. However, the Cowboys need more depth at safety, and Florida A&M prospect Markquese Bell just might be a Day 3 gem the Dallas Cowboys can snatch away during the NFL Draft.
Below is Bell’s scouting report courtesy of NFL.com’s draft expert, Lance Zierlein:
“Active, lanky safety with run support flashes but a need for better technique and body control as a tackler. Bell has experience at a variety of alignments but is too tight-hipped to be cast in heavy-duty coverage assignments. His movements are unorthodox and lack desired fluidity, but he plays with a burst to close that helps him do his job. He could use a more clearly defined skill set to flash enough to make a practice squad or back-end of a roster.”
Bell enrolled at Maryland in 2017 with tons of promise as a 4-star recruit out of New Jersey. He wouldn’t get a chance to showcase what he could do for the Terrapins though, as he was suspended by the program for a violation of the school’s code of conduct.
This forced Bell to take the JUCO route. He found himself at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas for the 2018 season and recorded 55 tackles, as well as two interceptions. Bell’s strong season garnered attention from Nebraska and South Carolina. However, Bell chose to take his talents to Florida A&M.
Bell’s first season with the Rattlers was a successful one. He tallied 61 tackles (five tackles for loss), five interceptions, nine passes defended, and two forced fumbles. Unfortunately for Bell, the Rattlers canceled the 2020 season due to COVID which slowed his momentum, but his final act in 2021 sent him out on a high note.
Bell gained national recognition after 95 tackles (6.5 tackles for loss), an interception, a pass defended, five forced fumbles, and two sacks on his way to earning First-Team SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) honors.
How does Bell fit with the Dallas Cowboys?
The Cowboys bringing in Bell would give them a safety that can make plays down in the box or in coverage on the back end. That versatility makes Bell a candidate to provide depth at either safety spot behind Kearse or Hooker.
Markquese Bell is excellent against the run and can be effective in man and zone coverages. He has great speed (ran 4.41 in the 40-yard dash) which can’t be taught. Also, at 6-foot-2 his height is elite and he has springs in his legs which led to a 36.5-inch vertical jump, making him a prime candidate to challenge contested passes.
If Bell somehow found himself on the Cowboys’ roster he would join Israel Mukuamu and Tyler Coyle as intriguing young players at the safety position behind Kearse, Hooker, and Wilson. The Cowboys bring in 30 players every year before the draft to their facility. Bell is one of them this year which means he’s a player they have high regard for.
Feature image via Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via Content Services, LLC