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Bengals FS Jessie Bates is PFF’s AFC Defensive Rookie of the Month and a Midseason All-Pro

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The Bengals’ second-round pick is gunning for Defensive Rookie of the Year at this rate.

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals finished the month of October with a 2-2 record and have given up 107 points and 1,608 yards in their last three games. The defense is a problem, whether or not defensive coordinator Teryl Austin wants to admit it.

Yet, despite all of this, Austin’s unit has a rising star in the secondary.

Last year it was William Jackson. This year it’s Jessie Bates.

Bates’ October has been quite the spectacle to watch. 19 solo tackles, three passes broken up, two interceptions and one pick-six is impressive for any free safety in today’s game, 21-year old rookie or not. Pro Football Focus has taken notice and crowned Bates as their AFC Defensive Rookie of the Month:


Just recently named to PFF’s Midseason All-Pro team, Bates has been a stud in coverage. He was targeted 11 times last month and had almost as many picks (2) as he allowed catches (3). That was good enough for a passer rating of 0.0. Bates’ four coverage stops over that span were also sixth-best of any safety in the league.

Oh yeah, did we mention Bates was also a part of that Midseason All-Pro team?


Bates hasn’t looked anything like a rookie through the first half of the season in Cincinnati. The Bengals safety has allowed all of 59 yards into his coverage on 16 targets so far this year and has three picks to boot.

For the first quarter of the season, Bates was in the backseat to Derwin James’ hot start, but Bates’ consistency through his defense’s turmoil has elevated him to the upper echelon of not only first-year players, but all players.

While the usual suspects in Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap have carried the load up front, Bates has been the bedrock of the back seven. No one has played more snaps than Bates (587 out of 599 total snaps) and his coverage stats per PFF are inordinate for the Bengals’ defensive standards this year.

It’s incredible how much better the Bengals got at safety by trusting Bates to take over for George Iloka after just two preseason games. And Iloka was never a bad player, Bates is just that good, and he truly hit the ground running.

Can he run away with defensive rookie of the year? We’re not betting against him at this point.