The Cincinnati Bengals decided to draft a safety in the second round with Wake Forest Jessie Bates.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been trying to build an elite group in the secondary over the last few years. Drafting cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and William Jackson III over the years which is finally looking to come into play in 2018. Dennard and Jackson both had breakout seasons in 2017 while Kirkpatrick battled injuries most of the season but will be returning healthy in 2018.
The Bengals already have two starting caliber safeties in George Iloka and Shawn Williams who signed long-term deals back in the 2016 offseason. Unfortunately, since the deals were inked, both safeties have not been playing up to the money they signed for. Each safety grabbed one interception last year helping the defense only total 11 interceptions all season. That tied for 20th in the NFL in 2017.
Cincinnati has made it a point to find more playmakers at the safety position this offseason. With new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in-house, they have been looking in free agency to find a more versatile safety to add to the group. They were aggressive at trying to grab safety Kurt Coleman and then brought in former San Francisco safety Eric Reid this offseason as well.
The team decided not to sign Reid before the draft, whether that be for his protests during the anthem or waiting till after the draft, and it seems like it was the right move. Cincinnati decided to go safety in the second round with Wake Forest Jessie Bates. After trading back in the draft with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bengals still had their pick at safety.
Bates has great instincts in coverage, especially in zone coverage. He is sometimes a little too aggressive and ends up paying for it. His best role would be in the robber role for the Bengals as a third safety allowing him to be a ballhawk. Cincinnati found a playmaker to hopefully bring in more interceptions to a team who only had 11 in 2017.