Safety? That’s right. The Cincinnati Bengals selected Jordan Battle with their third-round pick. The 6-foot-1, 209-pound Bama product was a three-year starter and was one of the highest safeties in the draft, but a safety?
We are all used to nation analysts not having a clue about the Bengals, so we all just shook our heads when they listed safety as a need. The fans and locals did not put an emphasis on the position, instead putting faith in free agent Nick Scott as well as the two draftees from a year ago.
How were we wrong?
What he brings to the Bengals
Pedigree: Battle played for a highly competitive high school program, then chose to attend the University of Alabama. He has trained and prepared the way the Bengals expect their players to for years. They love taking players from marquee programs who know what it takes to compete at a championship level year in and year out.
Competition: The Bengals are expected to start 2022 first-rounder Dax Hill and free agent Nick Scott at safety, and are optimistic, but neither is truly proven in the NFL. They only have one full year of starting experience between them. While Battle is unlikely to dethrone either of them, he will create competition and provide insurance in case one of them comes up short of expectations.
Why the Bengals picked Battle
Run defense: When compared to Hill and Scott, Battle seems like much more of a true string safety. Vonn Bell spent a lot of time in the box and at times seemed like a gloried linebacker. Perhaps that is the role Battle could fill on this team.
Tight End Coverage: Battle has done a good job of covering tight ends in the past and may be a better physical matchup against bigger-bodied players than the team’s other tight ends. Remember, that they have not brought Tre Flowers, who spent a lot of time playing man on tight ends over the past two seasons.
Depth and Special Teams: The Bengals are pretty light at the safety position after the exit of Bell and Jessie Bates. Battle will help to bolster that and most likely play a large role on special teams as well. He played nearly 800 special teams snaps in college.
I didn’t see it coming, but I can certainly get on board.
Battle is a heavy hitter who flies down from the secondary to make tackles against both the run and the pass. He plays with incredible effort and has the swagger the Bengals look for on defense. He brings a different type of physical presence to the safety position, which will complement Hill and Scott nicely.