2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Michigan WR Ronnie Bell

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell.

#8 Ronnie Bell, WR, Michigan (G-Senior) — 5112, 192 Lbs.

Senior Bowl Invite


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Ronnie Bell 5’11, 192 9 1/2″ 31 1/8″ 75″
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press

The Good

-Smooth operator; quick and efficient in and out of his breaks
-Has a good feel for how to manipulate defenders at the top of his stem, creating good separation
-Tough, hard-nosed receiver with quality YAC abilities
-Adequate ball skills with sound catch radius; basketball background helps him at catch point
-Versatile weapon comfortable lining up all over offensive formation
-Reliable chain-mover; consistently came up with key plays for Michigan
-Brings punt return experience to the table
-Willing blocker with ideal mindset to thrive in that area in the NFL

The Bad

-Only possesses average speed; not a twitched up athlete overall
-Struggles with his overall release package off the line; longer press corners can win early against him at LOS, controlling rep
-More of a manufactured touch guy at Michigan
-Needs to tap into his basketball background a bit more in contested catch situations, especially in the air
-Lacked overall production as a vertical threat throughout his career
-Play strength a concern; has physical mentality but needs to add functional strength


-Appeared in 47 career games at Michigan, starting 31 games
-Voted a team captain in 2021 by his teammates before missing entire season due to torn ACL suffered in season-opener against Western Michigan
-Five-year letterman at Michigan from 2018-22
-Named the Michigan Rookie of the Year in 2018, named the Offensive Skill Player of the Year in 2019 and 2022
-Two-time All-Big Ten honoree (third team, coaches and media in 2022; honorable mention, media in 2019) at Michigan
-Finished career with 145 receptions for 2,269 yards and nine touchdowns over 47 games in the maize and blue
-Previously had committed to Missouri State to play basketball out of high school before signing with Michigan to play football
-Top 3 in all-time receiving categories in Missouri prep football history inreceptions, yards and touchdowns with former NFL players Dorial Green-Beckham and Jeremy Maclin
-Turned 23 years old on January 28
-Majored in English, studied in College of Literature, Science and the Arts

Tape Breakdown

Hard-nosed, tough, dependable.

Those are all words to describe the game of Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell, one of the more overlooked and underrated receivers in a deep, talented wide receiver class as part of the 2023 NFL Draft

Not the flashiest or best athletes by any stretch, Bell does what many in the class don’t do at a high level, which is be dependable and simply make plays overall.

A five-year letter winner at Michigan, Bell bounced back from a torn ACL suffered in the season opener against Western Michigan in 2021 to record a career season in the maize and blue, finishing with 62 receptions for 889 yards and four touchdowns for the Big Ten champion Wolverines, who reached the College Football Playoff for the second straight season.

Though the Wolverines were a physical, run-heavy team, having a guy like Bell in the slot and on the boundary was key for the passing attack.

He doesn’t have high-end speed and isn’t a twitched-up athlete, but he was very good as route runner, consistently creating separation at the top of his stems getting open, especially out of the slot.


Here against Hawaii last season, Bell is the wide receiver in the bunch formation. He does a great job overall in the route, setting the Rainbow Warriors’ defensive back up by pushing hard vertically before hitting him with the plant foot to get inside on the skinny post route for the score.

He showed off is toughness at the catch-point too, taking a big shot in the end zone but still holding on for the clutch catch and score.


Bell’s ability to win as a route runner was very prominent on tape.

Here against UConn last season, Bell is at the top of the screen and is working on the stop route, bending it to the outside. He does a great job climbing past the chains on third and short. Look at the way he’s able to stop and get out of his break quickly, creating a ton of separation against the defensive back for the first down catch.

Great feet along the sideline, too. He’s a very dependable possession-style receiver.


Again, he’s not the flashiest receiver overall and certainly isn’t the crispest route runner like some of the technicians we see in the NFL today. But, the guy just knows how to manipulate defenders in his routes and get himself open.

I loved this route against Nebraska last season. Look at the way he turns the safety around near midfield, creating a ton of space overall for the pitch and catch. It’s not the best throw, but it doesn’t need to be with how open Bell is. That’s what he did consistently in Michigan’s offense.

Seemingly always open, always making the key play.


Throughout his time at Michigan, the Wolverines had to manufacture some touches for him. That’s fine and all, but can be viewed as a negative for a receiver looking to make the leap. That said, the Wolverines did it so often because Bell was very good getting open and making plays with the football.

Third down here against Penn State last season and Bell runs a picture-perfect whip route to get open and move the chains.

There’s no wasted movement in and out of the break on the whip route as he cleanly beats the defensive back and shows his quarterback his numbers, moving the chains. I am a big fan of the way Bell gets in and out of breaks and cuts in his routes. He’s not going to light the world on fire with testing numbers, but he’s just always open, creating separation consistently.


Surprisingly throughout his college tape, Bell was a YAC monster for the Wolverines. Some of that had to do with his ability to return kicks and punts, but the toughness and determination after the catch was present throughout his tape. He’s not the biggest or the fastest, but he’s going to fight for every conceivable yard on the field.

Fumbling here late in the rep is a negative, but the Wolverines did recover it for the score, and it was one of the only fumbles Bell had all season.


Overall, I think Ronnie Bell is going to have a long career in the NFL as a solid depth receiver that plays in more of a possession style role and provides special teams abilities.

He’s not going to wow teams with his testing numbers or measurables, but he’s just a tough, gritty receiver overall that is willing to do whatever it takes to win football games. He has the right mindset as a blocker, too, providing physicality at the point of attack in the run game. That was a requirement to play at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh, but he really bought in and personified Michigan football at the receiver position.

Add in the special teams acumen and there’s a clear path to a role in the NFL for Bell. I’d like to see him be better in contested-catch situations using his basketball background a bit more to win with body positioning, as well as work on his release packages off the line to avoid struggles against press, but overall Bell is a solid Day 3 option at the receiver position.

I see a lot of Allen Hurns to his game overall.

Projection: Mid-Day 3 (5th Round)

Depot Draft Grade: 7.0 — Backup/Special Teamer

Games Watched: Hawaii (2022), UConn (2022), Maryland (2022), Iowa (2022), Indiana (2022), Penn State (2022), Michigan State (2022), Rutgers (2022), Nebraska (2022), Illinois (2022), Ohio State (2022), Purdue (2022), TCU (2022)

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