The Raiders had two defensive ends in their draft class before the seventh and final round. It didn’t stop them from taking another one. They snatched Quinton Bell out of Prairie View A&M, as raw and freakishly athletic as one can possibly get. This low-risk, possibly high-reward selection is a project to be sure, one that will be brought along with the lowest possible expectation level for his rookie season.
Let’s take a look at what the Raiders might get from their seventh-round flier.
Draft slot: No. 230 overall (Seventh round)
Position: Defensive end
Weight: 253 pounds
School: Prairie View A&M
Bell is fast. Like really, really fast. The converted receiver ran a blistering 40-yard dash at his pro day – it’s either 4.38 seconds or 4.48, depending on whom you believe – which certainly raises an eyebrow among those who believe this raw prospect can be well seasoned. He only played defense for one season, so he’s technically raw and still getting used to the position. His athleticism is unquestioned, meaning he can bend well and muscle people and chase ball carriers down. There’s plenty to work on technically and some weight to gain even though he’s at 253, but there’s a reason to believe this guy can stick in the league.
Training camp proving ground
Bell shouldn’t enter this summer with something to prove before the season starts. This is a long-term play, so progress reports are more important than anything that happens this summer and fall and into next offseason. He needs to show growth, and that should happen easily working with an NFL staff and respected position coach Brenston Buckner. Mastering technique, from hand fighting to footwork to proper angles will get him closer to a productive place, though there shouldn’t be a formal timetable to get there despite the Raiders overall lack of a pass rush in recent seasons.
Don’t expect much from Bell. That isn’t fair for him or your stress level. There’s a possibility he could show enough progress and potential to earn a role on obvious passing downs, or at least offer injury protection while contributing on special teams.
He could help on special teams right away if they want to keep him on the 53-man roster while learning the ropes, considering his speed and athleticism. Providing some juice late in games, using speed against a tired offensive front could be impactful while most others get steady work off the edge.
Bell failing to grasp Buckner’s lessons and proving overmatched even in practice could lead to a quick hook in September that sends him off the roster for good.
Or, what might be worse: the Raiders waive him after the preseason hoping to sneak him on the practice squad, only to have another team snatch Bell and turn him into a standout player. That would sting a Raiders team that believes Bell can play.
The Raiders will have to weigh possibilities they can sneak Bell onto their practice squad for the 2019 season, giving him a redshirt year to get better acclimated to defensive end and what’s required to excel there in the NFL.
Unless his summer is excellent, the Raiders probably would like to sneak him on to that supplemental squad. They may have to keep him or find a way to stash him on injured reserve to avoid a waiver claim. They could hide him during the preseason, but that might hinder his progress. Bell landing on the practice squad seems most likely, though it won’t be an open-and-shut case leaving him off the original 53-man roster.