Earlier today, our own Dadio posted his 2021 player preview for Jessie Bates, which was aptly titled Jessie Bates will get the respect he deserves in 2021.
Sadly, that respect won’t come before the season, at least from Pro Football Focus.
In their ranking of the top 50 NFL players heading into next season, Bates failed to make a list that included names like James Bradberry.
James Freaking Bradberry?
Sure, the former second-round pick has come a long way since his so-so first four years in the NFL that saw him earn PFF grades of 69.5 (2016), 62.5 (2017), 66.4 (2018) and 61.7 (2019). He did earn a career-high mark of 79.8 last season, but that’s not even as high as Bates’ rookie season grade of 79.9 (2018).
Sure, Bates struggled in 2019 and finished with a career-low 61.2 grade, but he rebounded with authority the following year to record an elite 90.1 mark, one of the highest any NFL defender achieved in 2020.
Now entering just his fourth pro season at age 24 and in a contract year, there’s plenty of reason to believe Bates will be just as good in 2021, which would easily be among the league’s 50 best players.
And sure, you can knock Bates playing for a team that’s won six games over the last two seasons, but Bradberry’s teams have gone 7-9, 5-11 and 6-10 over the last three seasons, so it’s not like his teams are lighting things up either.
Alas, it’s painfully obvious there’s still much respect to be earned for Bates as he enters what may be the most important season of his NFL career. Here’s to hoping the Cincinnati Bengals win more in 2021 to help justify Bates’ place as one of the league’s top defensive backs.