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New England Tight End Jaheim Bell Tabbed as a Rookie Sleeper

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Florida State tight end Jaheim Bell (6) runs after catching a pass in front of Duke linebacker Cam Dillon (35) during the first half of an NCAA college football, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

CBS Sports picked a 2024 rookie ‘sleeper’ for each AFC team. First-round picks were not eligible for consideration. The list consisted of players who were a “non-Round 1 selection who has the talent — and situation — to flourish as a rookie.” The choice from the New England Patriots was tight end Jaheim Bell.

New England selected Bell in the seventh round (No. 231 overall) in this year’s draft. He played collegiately for South Carolina before finishing at Florida State. Jaheim Bell went in the fifth round (No. 158) in the seven-round NFL mock draft on Patriots Football Now three weeks before the actual draft.

Jaheim Bell meets the two criteria for the honor: talent and opportunity.

Also Read – Patriots 90-Man Roster Spotlight: Hunter Henry

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Bell has exceptional athleticism for his size. Reel Analytics ranked him as having the fourth best in-game athleticism in the 2024 tight end draft class.

That same service ranked Bell as the second most productive tight end in the draft during his college career. This made him the only tight end other than first-round pick Brock Bowers to be ranked in the top four of both categories.

South Carolina utilized Bell as an H-back as well. In 2022 he amassed more rushing yards than receiving yards for the Gamecocks. Bell was clocked running 22.4 miles per hour in full pads during a game. Despite his athleticism and versatility, Jaheim Bell was the eleventh tight end selected in April’s draft. It is a potential steal for Eliot Wolf in his first year having final say in the New England Patriots front office.

Opportunity

Hunter Henry is the New England Patriots primary tight end. Aside from Henry, all roster spots are very much up for grabs. Several candidates could emerge as the Patriots’ second tight end or not even make the 53-man roster. Veterans Austin Hooper and Mitchell Wilcox were both signed as free agents this offseason. Jacob Warren was added to the 90-man roster as an undrafted free agent. La’Michael Pettway also returns from the 2023 team, though he has not seen any NFL game action.

Jaheim Bell’s previous experience running the football and playing H-back could force Alex Van Pelt to find unique ways to take advantage of his skillset for New England. Having a less predictable offense in 2024 is imperative to have increased success. Bell’s versatility can help ensure that happens.

Other Options

CBS Sports had six candidates options for their Patriots ‘rookie sleeper’ excluding Bell. Wide receivers Ja’Lynn Polk and Javon Baker were both solid options. Either or both could earn significant playing time immediately for New England. Although the Patriots aren’t expected to have a record-shattering passing attack, both receivers fulfill the criteria of talent and situation working to their advantage.

Right guard Layden Robinson is another potential standout from New England’s draft class. If Cole Strange isn’t active to start the season for the Patriots, Sidy Sow could be moved over to left guard. That shift opens up a spot for Robinson to start in Week 1 at right guard for New England. Fellow offensive line draftee Caeden Wallace will also be fighting for a starting spot in camp, likely at left tackle.

Quarterback Joe Milton III is not expected to play as a rookie, though his talent is undeniable. Cornerback Marcellas Dial Jr. is part of a crowded cornerback field. He could easily find himself getting significant playing time, or not making the 53-man roster out of camp.

The New England Patriots would love to have multiple players in consideration for this honor after the season. Drake Maye is the star attraction of New England’s draft class, but helping to turn the franchise back into a contender will take the contributions of many players. Eliot Wolf hopes he added a few difference-makers in April. Stay tuned.

Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports, MLB.com, and many other outlets.

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