Dallas Cowboys linebacker Markquese Bell, who went undrafted in the 2023 NFL Draft, has made some scouts rethink passing on him. PFF.com, a site that rates athletes based on statistics and analytics, named the rookie safety-turned-linebacker as the top-graded linebacker in the NFL.
Bell signed out of Florida A&M as a safety, but was known as a tough runstopper. The Cowboys gambled on him with an injured linebacker core and he has more than filled the gap for injured players, he is the team’s second-leading tackler.
He has done this despite playing special teams for the first few games. In seven games he has 22 solo tackles and 11 assists, following only Damone Clark who has amassed 45 tackles while playing regularly.
What has made Bell valuable is his dual-threat ability to drop in coverage when the scheme calls for it. Often NFL teams look for a mismatch against a linebacker with a wide receiver or tight end. Bell’s skills negate that as he is naturally a pass coverage specialist. The grittiness to play middle linebacker, of all places, is quite remarkable for a player who stands at 6’3” and just 205 lbs.
Bell, who came to Florida A&M after transferring from the University of Maryland, was an All-MEAC, All-SWAC and All-American while at FAMU. In 2021, following the pandemic, he was one of the feature characters on the Rattler squad for an eight-week show following the Rattlers. ESPN’s “Why Not Us?” produced by Chris Paul, featured Bell and followed his journey as a highly-touted athlete making his way through college.