Every year, Bob McGinn speaks to scouts, personnel directors, NFL executives and coaches about the top crop of talent in the NFL Draft. As a result, he gets some interesting analysis and opinions on the players and creates a ranking of the top guys at each position.
We’re taking a look at each of the Bengals draft picks who landed in these rankings. Bengals second round pick Jessie Bates was ranked as the No. 5 safety in the draft in the safety rankings. He’s behind Derwin James (the 17th overall pick in the draft), Minkah Fitzpatrick (11th overall pick), Ronnie Harrison (93rd overall pick in Round 3) and Justin Reid (68th overall pick in Round 3). Those four players were ranked in that order on the list, though their actual selections in the draft did not come in that order.
Bates was selected by the Bengals with the No. 54 overall pick in Round 2. Clearly, the Bengals liked him better than Harrison (who the team brought in for a Top-30 visit) and Reid (brother to former 49ers safety Eric Reid who the Bengals hosted on a free agent visit).
Here’s how the rankings work and which safeties landed where:
In the poll, scouts ranked their top five safeties and top five cornerbacks. A first-place vote was worth 5 points, a second was worth 4 points and so on.
Fitzpatrick edged James in points, 60-57. Following, in order, were Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison (27), Stanford’s Justin Reid (20), Wake Forest’s Jessie Bates (14), Texas A&M’s Armani Watts (seven), Penn State’s Marcus Allen (three), Virginia Tech’s Terrell Edmunds (three), Texas’ DeShon Elliott (two), Penn State’s Troy Apke (one) and Tennessee’s Rashaan Gaulden (one).
Watts was the 124th overall pick, Allen was the 148th overall pick, Edmunds was selected by the Steelers with the 28th overall pick, Elliott was the 190th overall pick, Apke was drafted 109th overall and Gaulden was drafted 85th overall. Clearly, these guys were not drafted in the order in which anonymous scouts ranked them.
Interestingly, the two cornerbacks who the Bengals drafted this year — Darius Phillips of Western Michigan and DaVontae Harris and Illinois State — both received votes for the top 10 at their position, but neither made the top 10 cut in the ranking. That makes sense as Harris was the 17th cornerback selected in the draft and Phillips was the 18th.
So, what did anonymous scouts have to say about the Bengals’ second round pick, Jessie Bates?
“Physical,” said one scout. “Square, strong tackler. He’s like your prototypical strong safety. He’s pretty good.”
Pretty good isn’t particularly high praise for the new Bengals safety.
“Don’t see burst,” a second scout said. “Adequate aggressiveness. Tight straight-line guy. He will tackle.”
The Bengals see a lot more in Bates than these anonymous scouts. They see a high-potential playmaker who can contribute starting on Day 1 and who has an incredibly high football IQ. Bates can read defenses with ease, which is one of his top strengths and one that will benefit him in the NFL.
In his two seasons playing at Wake Forest, Bates had 177 tackles (9.5 for loss), 6 interceptions (2 of which were pick sixes), 10 passes defensed and 2 forced fumbles.