Bengals to build around: Jessie Bates III
There is no player on the Bengals’ roster who is better than Jessie Bates III. In his third year as a pro, Bates has not only proved himself to be the MVP of the Bengals’ defense, but he has even made a case for himself to be considered the best safety in the NFL.
With an overall PFF grade of 91.3, Bates is the highest graded safety in the league. The next highest-graded safety is John Johnson III of the Rams, with an overall grade of 86.5. For those who struggle with math, that means that Bates is PFF’s highest-graded safety by nearly five points. In other words, Bates is the best safety in the league and it really isn’t close.
In 2020, Bates leads the Bengals in solo tackles (62), passes defended (13), and interceptions (3). As the Bengals’ defense has struggled at times as a unit, Bates has continued to thrive.
Playing on a defense that is desperate for young talent, Bates’ third-year breakout has been a godsend for the Bengals. Once he is surrounded by more talent, he should only get better.
Since Joe Burrow plays quarterback, he is by far the most important player on the Bengals’ roster. However, the most important player should not be confused with being the best. Bates is the best player on the roster by a wide margin and extending him should be the Bengals’ number one focus.