This has to be a joke, right?
Safety Jessie Bates is a rising superstar.
Last season was the best of his career, and it was the third straight 100-tackle season of his career. Bates is just 24 and on track to be one of the best safeties in the NFL; he’s already found his name on many rankings of the league’s most talented young players.
However, not everyone feels that way.
“If he was on a different team, people would love this guy,” one executive told ESPN. This was in the midst of the ultra-popular sports site ranking Bates as the 10th-best safety in the NFL.
However, some numbers may say otherwise.
“Bates’ 47.7% completion percentage as the nearest defender ranks third among safeties, and he basically got a pass deflection every third time he was targeted (15 breakups on 44 tries),” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote.
Bates had 15 pass deflections, as Fowler noted, and that was far higher than any other safety. Unless one considers Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from New Orleans a safety, the safety with the second-most deflections was Green Bay’s Darnell Savage Jr. He had 12.
Bates 109 tackles may not have been the most of his career, but his 78 solo tackles were. That was tied for the 16th-most in the NFL and it was the fourth-most among safeties. Bates was all over the field last season, making an impact on almost every play.
Even his three interceptions ranked in the top ten among safeties. It was just an all-around dominant season despite the Bengals winning just four games.
It’s not tough to make a case for him being a top-five safety, and as the executive noted, in a bigger market, he could very easily be getting more attention.