DB Jessie Bates III, Wake Forest

 6’2” – 195 lbs. – 4.55

Profile: 

  • Tall, long-limbed free safety who typically lines up deep as a traditional safety for his team, but who also has plenty of experience shading over and covering slot receivers.

Positives:

  • Has a good frame for the position, although his build is a little bit thin. Plays with a conservative temperament and adequate instincts to avoid giving up big plays over the top of the defense; avoids overcommitting and leaving himself out of position. Puts himself in good position to make tackles on plays into his area. Looks to have pretty good balance and footwork in his backpedal and was asked to do so frequently. Keeps himself in position to make open-field tackles as the last line of defense, and uses wrap technique. When working in coverage, has a pretty good feel for route developments underneath and wasn’t targeted very often in the games reviewed, although the cushions he gave would have made him susceptible to short throws underneath. Does a good job of locating the ball and using his length to break up throws when targeted. Has additional value as a punt returner, having proven a dangerous option in college.

Negatives:

  • Doesn’t have the type of physicality teams look for; a little bit soft. Tackling production is not quite where it should be given his adequate athleticism and instincts; tends to be a pile-inspector if other players are in the area, and an ankle-grabber who lets some ballcarriers slip through his grasp when he’s the first man on the scene. A lot of his work in coverage came in off-man against slot receivers as opposed to traditional cover-one or cover-two shells, but may lack the speed, hips, and burst to handle a man coverage role at the next level. Plant-and-drive is average. Often gets the worst of it when trying to enforce over the middle of the field because of his below-average functional strength.

Summary:

  • Has the height, length, and diagnostic skills teams look for in a free safety, but may not appeal to every team because of his lack of reliability as a tackler, something which can be traced back to his lack of functional strength and his somewhat soft game. Additionally, he was not asked to do a lot of deep zone work at the college level, so it’s reasonable to ask how well he’ll adjust to that sort of role at the next level, especially because he may not have the athleticism to play in the slot as much as a pro as he did in college.

 

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