There is a youth movement in the Cincinnati Bengals defensive backfield this season.
Gone are veterans Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell. In are second-year safety Dax Hill, and now, rookie Jordan Battle as a starter as well.
After a strong showing in the Thursday Night Football loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Battle was named the starting strong safety by defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. Fans called for Battle to replace Nick Scott for weeks and finally got their wish. Battle has produced in his chances this season, even before becoming the starter.
He played so well in Week 12 that he is, in fact, Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded rookie defensive back for the week.
Jordan Battle: highest-graded rookie DB in the NFL for week 12 - 76.8 pic.twitter.com/AhjHH8SeAs— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) November 28, 2023
The rookie out of Alabama is making a name for himself in a season where not much else seems to be going right for the Bengals. So far, Battle has 32 total tackles (20 solo, 12 assists). On Sunday, he logged 5 tackles.
With as creative as Anarumo is with his defensive backs, Battle has been tasked with more than just coverage. He has gotten involved in run defense as well as the “traditional” safety role and is making an impact.
Between Battle, Hill, and second-year corner Cam Taylor-Britt, Cincinnati is quietly building a young, talented defensive backfield that could be a problem for opposing offenses for years to come.
Battle entered the 2023 NFL Draft as an experienced starter who garnered praise from Nick Saban, so it is no surprise to see his game translate to the NFL so well.