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Dre Kirkpatrick is already impressed with Bengals rookie Jessie Bates

Dre Kirkpatrick is the oldest player in the Bengals’ secondary, but even he was impressed with how far along Jessie Bates instincts are as a rookie.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dre Kirkpatrick is the oldest veteran in the Bengals secondary at 28 years old.

Now entering his seventh NFL season, Kirkpatrick has seen plenty of talented players during his time with Cincinnati. He has seen players like Reggie Nelson, Terence Newman and Leon Hall all prosper with the team. However, he was still very impressed with one of the Bengals’ newest members to the secondary, safety Jessie Bates III.

“His awareness. His quickness. He made a play today, where a receiver caught the ball, [Tyler Boyd] caught the ball, and he was right there,” Kirkpatrick told reporters. “He almost knocked it out.

“Just to see the instinct of him, that’s what we need. We need instinctive guys in the secondary to make big plays. Everything’s not x’s and o’s. Sometimes you see the ball, you just gotta go get it.”

Bates was taken in the second round by the Bengals. The move was slightly surprising given that the starters from last season — George Iloka and Shawn Williams — are still locked up for a couple more seasons.

When you look at the lack of interceptions since Nelson left, you get why the instinctive Bates was brought in. Last season, Iloka and Williams had one interception apiece.

Bates had six interceptions and 10 passes defended over the last two seasons at Wake Forest. He has been brought in to add a three safety type of look to the defense. This is a growing trend after the Eagles defense was very successful with it last season.

Cincinnati also showed their hand when they brought in the former 49ers safety Eric Reid for a visit before the draft. The Bengals have also stated they believe Bates has the ability to match up in man coverage with tight ends and receivers in the slot, which only adds to the amount we should see him on the field.

The Bengals have also made turnovers a huge initiative defensively after only creating more turnovers than the 0-16 Browns last season. Bates’ instincts will help increase that number, and if Kirkpatrick’s thoughts are any indication, that help could be coming sooner rather than later.

Bates has gotten as many snaps as he can handle with the Bengals bringing Williams along slowly after sustaining an injury. It may just be OTAs, but it is still a very good indication of how he will play in the passing game.

We shouldn’t expect Bates to takeover for Williams and Iloka after a good OTA, but Kirkpatrick has us believing that the future isn’t as far off as one of their contracts expiring.

In any case, it looks like we will have a few years of having a very good safety trio on the field.