The Saints traded up into the second round to draft safety Vonn Bell out of Ohio State.
When they made the pick, media outlets were quick to throw their support. Bell showed a great ability to read and react in college, and hid his limited athleticism with strong angles, strong tackles, and proper reads.
Well, he did tackle well. But that’s about it.
Most fans and media outlets still have Bell pegged as a positive rookie contributor. I just didn’t see that.
Like I said, Bell has limited athleticism. But in college he made up for that with excellent reads. In his rookie year, he struggled in that regard. He often made the wrong read in coverage, took a poor angle in run support, and it really hurt the Saints.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Bell showed promise. It’s hard to play in this league as a rookie, much less as a rookie safety. First of all, you’re being asked to quickly read and react to a game that is suddenly much faster than any you’d ever played. Of course that’s going to take some adjustment time. And second, any mistake you make will be highlighted by the fact that it probably went for a touchdown.
But too often Bell found himself getting lectured by his teammates after missing assignments in coverage or biting on the wrong read.
Dennis Allen likes to operate with three safeties. No doubt the injuries at CB made this a more prevalent defensive scheme in 2016. But you can be sure we’ll see it again in 2017, in some capacity. If the New Orleans Saints want to turn out a good defense, they’ll need to be able to rely on Bell.