The NFL Network has commenced their annual top 100 rankings, and Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III is a part of it.
While it’s still to be seen how many other Bengals will crack the list, Bates is coming in at No. 90.
Trey Hendrickson, who signed with the Bengals this offseason following a four-year career with the New Orleans Saints, also cracked the list as the 73rd-best NFL player.
In the last year of his rookie contract, Bates is primed for the best season of his career, tag-teaming with Vonn Bell to create one of the best safety duos in the NFL. The 24-year-old former second-round pick totaled a career-high 15 passes defended last season.
It was far more than just his deflections that helped showcase his value though. Bates also ended the season with 109 tackles, 77 of which were solo. Bates’ solo tackles were tied for the 11th most in the NFL. His three interceptions can’t be overlooked either.
It was an outstanding season for Bates, and it was one that opened the eyes for many both within the Bengals organization and from around the league.
What’s yet to be seen is if it was enough for him to get paid as the two sides don’t seem overly close to agreeing on a contract extension. That said, another consistent season as a top-10 player could change that.
Bates isn’t just an internal leader either. He was recently promoted to be the Bengals representative to the NFL Players Association. That’s no light task as it was on the shoulders of former Bengals legend Geno Atkins.
As for the ranking, Bates ranked one above Jets receiver Corey Davis and one below Buccaneers offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs. Just for a point of reference, Adam Thielen is a popular name, and he came in at No. 80. Bates did thankfully rank above Browns receiver Jarvis Landry.
Hendrickson is a different beast as well, ranking 17 spots higher than Bates. After a breakout season in New Orleans, Hendrickson came to Cincinnati, hoping to continue to write his story. All in the Queen City hope he continues to dominate.
The now fifth-year defensive end was tied for the third-most sacks in the league last season. He’ll be tasked with leading the defensive line, stepping up for Carl Lawson, the fan-favorite Cincinnati lost in free agency.
Hendrickson's numbers were largely inflated as many noted he wasn’t among the leaders in many other important metrics. However, no one in Cincinnati will be complaining if he duplicates his 13.5 sacks from last season.
Hendrickson ranked just ahead of Giants cornerback James Bradberry, Texans lineman Laremy Tunsil and Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett while being one spot behind Saints All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas.
That said, players like Joe Mixon and Joe Burrow may still make an appearance, but given the limited play of the two last season, it wouldn’t be shocking if a Bengals receiver is the only other player on the list, as both Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd have a case to be on the list.
Do you agree with the ranking of Bates and Hendrickson? Let us know in the comments section!