Jessie Bates III is one of the best safeties in football going into the 2021 season.
Bates had the highest Pro Football Focus grade among safeties in 2020. So when they made their list of the 25 best players under 25 years old, they ranked Bates 11th.
Here’s what PFF said about Bates:
Bates was the highest-graded safety in the league in 2020, posting an overall PFF grade of 90.1 and a coverage grade of 90.0. Nobody could match the frequency of plays Bates made on the football, many of which came from a deep-lying, middle-of-the-field alignment. He tallied a combined 15 interceptions and pass breakups, and even that number sold him short, as he was questionably flagged for a penalty on what would have been another.
However, Bates was not the first safety on this list. Minkah Fitzpatrick was ranked sixth, the highest defensive back on the list.
One glaring omission on this list is Joe Burrow. He will turn 25 in December, so will still make the September ninth cutoff that PFF set for this ranking. Justin Herbert is ranked 17th on this list after a phenomenal rookie year. Burrow had similar production albeit in fewer games, so sample size seems to be the the biggest blow against him.
Either way, the Bengals have a gem in their defensive backfield with Bates. He is set to make an insane amount of money to stay in Cincinnati.