Although we’re only two games into the NFL season, we’ve seen multiple rookies jump off the page with their talent so far. A lot of them have helped propel their teams to victory and some of their numbers early on have really impressed both the media and fans.
The Bengals have been one of those teams so far. They’ve gotten major contributions from their first three draft picks, and should see a couple more make an impact soon in running back Mark Walton and return specialist Darius Phillips.
One of those first three draft picks has played especially well to start the season and has been given national recognition for the start of his career. Pro Football Focus took some time to rank the Top 10 rookies in the NFL to this point and Bengals safety Jessie Bates made the list at number 8.
Bates is second among all defensive players so far this season with 166 snaps, and after Week 2, he ranks 14th among safeties in terms of overall grade. Bates has allowed three catches into his coverage for a total of just two yards this season, and he made a great read on an errant throw by Joe Flacco this past week to record his first NFL interception.
To anyone who’s watched a Bengals game this year, this should come as no surprise. Bates has made his presence felt all over the field. His overall PFF grade is 77.5, which puts him at 14th overall at the safety position. Beyond that, you can see the difference he’s made in regards to the energy and heartbeat of this team.
Not only has Bates taken hold of the starting free safety spot, he’s been a workhorse in a thin group. He’s only been sidelined for a couple of plays through two games with those 166 snaps. Bates has been an efficient tackler as well, as he’s racked up 11 tackles and has only missed one.
A lot of fans were initially shocked when they saw the Bengals release George Iloka before the season started, but now we can all see why as a result of Jessie’s play. He’s an electric defender that energizes the defense at every level. You see him everywhere on the field.
Knowing that he’s only played two games to this point should get all Bengals’ fans excited for the rest of this season and beyond.