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Jessie Bates Is One Of The Best Coverage Safeties In The Draft But He Has A Big Flaw

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2018 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

NCAA Football: Belk Bowl-Wake Forest vs Texas A&M Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Jessie Bates, S
School: Wake Forest | Conference: ACC
College Experience: rSo | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 195 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 4th Round
NFL Comparison: Byron Jones

College Statistics

Player Overview

Jessie Bates was a 2-star safety prospect out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was recruited to play at Toledo and at one point committed to that program before changing his mind. Bates then decided to attend school far away from home and joined Wake Forest where he redshirted his freshman year. Bates had a great redshirt freshman season as he put his free safety skills on full display. Bates is a rangy player and can cover a lot of ground. What is most impressive about him is his fluidity on the field. Bates can drop back and change direction with ease and has good closing burst along with great length it's these traits that have some considering him one of the best coverage safeties in this class. In coverage, Bates also plays with good instincts and can read the QBs eyes and break on the ball with good anticipation. He experienced a drop off in tackle and interception production this past season and battled through injuries. While some thought he would have benefitted from another year in school he decided it was time for him to jump to the NFL. While he is no doubt talented in coverage Bates biggest issues are physicality and reliability as a tackler. It is painful to watch a football player avoid contact and miss on so many tackles and I am stunned that Bates was able to put up the tackle production he did. Outside of those flaws Bates is also an impressive athlete and has great speed to boot. He has all the physical and intelligence traits to be a good free safety in the league he just needs to get more physical to have a great impact.

Strengths

  • Good height and length for the position with good athleticism. Has the speed and movements to play all over the field.
  • Is a natural playing deep zone coverage. Times his breaks well and takes good angles in coverage. Backpedal and change of direction are smooth.
  • Instincts, anticipation, and intelligence in coverage are all there.
  • The effort is there as the last line of defense has run down opposition from more than 30 yards or more.
  • Decent as a punt/kick returner.

Weaknesses

  • Plays with way too much finesse in run defense and when he’s up to make a tackle. Has poor tackling technique and is an ankle diver.
  • Because of the above, he misses a lot of tackles which leads to extra yards by the offense and can be especially damaging if he is a step late in deep coverage.
  • Long lean frame could stand to gain a few lbs.

Let’s see his work:

More Jessie Bates videos

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

If Bates played more physically I think he would be a lock in the top two rounds. The only outstanding weaknesses I saw with him were his physicality, tackling technique and effectiveness. Unfortunately, those are requirements for a safety even one that plays deep most of the time. He’ll definitely have a chance to improve his draft stock with his combine and pro day performances but the tape is out there. For teams looking for a free safety with solid coverage skills Bates definitely checks that box. He gets himself into position well when in coverage and can make some impressive plays on the ball. The Redskins have been looking for a true FS for many years and already have a young player at the position on the roster in Monte Nicholson. However, if Bates is there at the top of the 4th round I think he is a player that the team should seriously consider. In today’s nickel packages some teams often employ 3 safeties and this is where it helps to have depth and versatility at the position. With Bates, Nicholson, and Swearinger (and Cravens) all on the field at once in a 3-3-5 subpackage, the Redskins defense could have the best of three worlds there. The possibilities of a personnel group like that are no doubt exciting and would give the defense greater versatility and flexibility. Bates pros outweigh his weaknesses so I really hope that if he fills out his frame a little and gets coached up we’ll see some more physical plays from him.