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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

49ers make Michigan WR Ronnie Bell a 7th-round draft pick

Apr 29, 2023 at 3:45 PM

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The San Francisco 49ers selected Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell with the 36th pick (No. 253 overall) in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Bell registered 62 receptions for 889 yards and four touchdowns through 14 game appearances as a senior in 2022, per Sports Reference. He caught 145 passes for 2,269 yards with nine touchdowns through his five collegiate seasons.

"True Michigan Man, displaying the competitive spirit and work ethic expected inside the program," Lance Zierlein wrote within the player's scouting report. "Bell made it back in 2022 after sustaining an ACL tear in 2021, but he still looked a little passive getting in and out of breaks at times. His surprisingly low contested catch total is a bit deceiving, as the tape shows some incredible near-catches at challenging angles. So, his ball skills are a strength. He can catch what is thrown to him but might need to do it against zone or with help from scheme, as he potentially lacks the separation traits to get open consistently on the next level."

Bell is from Kansas City, MO. He earned a pre-draft grade of 5.85 from, which equates to an "average backup or special-teams player," per the site's 8-point grading scale.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, the 5' 11 5/8" and 191-pound Bell had a 40-time of 4.54 seconds, a vertical jump of 38.5 inches, a broad jump of 120 inches, a 6.98-second three-cone drill time, 14 reps in the bench press, and a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.15 seconds. His other measurables include an arm length of 31 inches and hands measuring 9 1/2 inches. projected Bell to be a sixth-round draft pick.

Below is the draft profile bio on Bell:

When Bell's career ended at Park Hill High School in Missouri, he ranked in the top three in state history in receptions and receiving yards -- only former NFL wideouts Dorial Green-Beckham and Jeremy Maclin had more in those categories than Bell. He was Michigan's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018 (8-145-18.1, two TDs receiving; 2-53-26.5 kick returns; 2-7-3.5 punt returns) and Offensive Skill Player of the Year in 2019 (48-758-15.8, one TD receiving; 8-67-8.4 punt returns). Bell led the Wolverines in receiving in 2020 (26-401-15.4, one TD) while starting all six games. Unfortunately, the team captain tore his ACL in the 2021 season-opener after making a few big plays, including a 76-yard reception and 31-yard punt return. Back healthy in 2022, he garnered third-team All-Big Ten Conference honors and was named the team's Offensive Skill Player of the Year with a team-high 62 receptions and 889 receiving yards (14.3 per) while scoring four times in 14 starts. He also chipped in as a rusher (3-23-7.7, one TD rushing) and punt returner (2-45-22.5). -- by Chad Reuter

Damian Parson of The Draft Network wrote the following about Bell within his scouting report:


Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell was a consensus three-star high school recruit. He was a three-year starter on varsity as a wide receiver and return specialist. In addition to football, Bell was a sought-after basketball player that averaged more than 14 points per game. Originally, his letter of intent was signed to Missouri State to play basketball before changing his intent to Michigan. Bell is an established leader on this team. He has been voted as a team captain in back-to-back seasons. Bell has been Michigan's leading receiver twice in his career.

As a wide receiver prospect, you should expect a good route-runner and salesman. Bell does a good job manipulating leverage by selling his stems. He has improved the suddenness out of his breaks to create ample separation in the quick and intermediate passing game. Bell fits the mold as a chain-moving receiver. His stop/start ability and body control allow him to generate yards after the catch. Bell brings versatility to an offense. He is not a static-alignment-style receiver; he can operate as a manufactured touch threat. He thrives off pre-snap movement, limiting defensive backs' ability to be physical with him at the line of scrimmage. Michigan uses Bell in ghost, jet, and orbit motions as the primary option or to indicate the defensive coverage pre-snap. Bell has shown the ability to pluck passes away from his frame. Passes that are outside of his structure allowed him to display his ball skills. His basketball background shows up in his leaping ability to make those out-of-frame passes.

Despite his athleticism and speed, Bell has not developed into a reliable deep or vertical threat in his career. Some of this is the lacking release package to allow him to win quickly at the line of scrimmage to stack defensive backs. The more athletic and taller cornerbacks can give him issues in press alignment, as they are able to get hands on and disrupt his route timing. Bell has good ball skills but has not been able to win those tough-contested catches. Bell has to improve his play strength in order to win those difficult catch sequences.

Bell projects as a No. 3 wide receiver and return specialist early in his career. His ability to get open and work from multiple alignments creates a fluid NFL offensive fit. He can become a movement piece for a passing game in 11-personnel (3WR) packages. There is developmental upside for Bell to become the second wide receiver behind an established No. 1 option. Bell's return prowess will allow him to make an impact for a team while he finds his place within the offensive system.


Height: 5' 11 5/8"
Weight: 191 lbs.
Arm length: 31 inches
Hand length: 9 1/2 inches

NFL Scouting Combine

40-time: 4.54 seconds
Vertical: 38.5 inches
Broad jump: 120 inches
3-cone drill: 6.98 seconds
Bench press: 14 reps
20-yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds

College Statistics
Year School Class G Rec Yds Avg TD
2018 Michigan FR 8 8 145 18.1 2
2019 Michigan SO 12 48 758 15.8 1
2020 Michigan JR 6 26 401 15.4 1
2021 Michigan SR 1 1 76 76 1
2022 Michigan SR 14 62 889 14.3 4
Total Michigan 145 2,269 15.6 9
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