Safety wasn’t viewed as a big need for the Bengals going into the NFL Draft, but it was an area they wanted another playmaker at. That’s why they selected Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates with the 54th overall pick.
Coming into the draft, Bates was regarded as one of the best play-making safeties, and the Bengals needed to find a way to upgrade a secondary that didn’t force enough turnovers in 2017. Many experts though Bates someone worthy of a second-round pick, but not everyone was convinced.
It’s safe to say a lot of experts thought Bates was a good value pick in the middle of Round 2, but that low CBS ranking hurt his overall ranking.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how the Bengals incorporate Bates with Shawn Williams and George Iloka having both safety spots locked down. That brings into question how soon the Bengals will be able to get their second-round pick onto the field.
But while they form a solid duo, when one of them is injured, it’s a big step back to Josh Shaw, and Clayton Fejedelem is still a bit of an unknown.
And frankly, Iloka and Williams aren’t so good that the Bengals should pass on a great safety prospect. I’m not saying Bates is one, but perhaps they think he is.
If you need a reason to be high on Bates, draft expect Matt Miller compared him to former Bengals safety Reggie Nelson. That’s exactly what this defense has been missing since he left in 2016.
The Bengals hope that’s the kind of impact Bates can make early and often in his pro career.