The Cincinnati Bengals have a young team for 2021 and two of their players made CBS Sports’ list of top 25 players under the age of 25. The list, put together by Cody Benjamin, had Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow at No. 8 and safety Jessie Bates at No. 16.
Benjamin offered this analysis for including the 24-year-old Burrow in the top 10 of the list:
"This requires a fair amount of projection. We’ve got just 10 games to work off, thanks to Burrow’s late-rookie-season knee injury, and he was more solid than elite throughout 2020. But the smarts and the moxie are there. If he stays healthy, he’s destined to be a winner. Is he a better player than, say, Metcalf or A.J. Brown right now? No. But the upside’s too great to ignore, especially at his position. If he stays healthy and plays up to par, he’d easily justify a top-five spot here."
Burrow being included on the list is not surprising considering the hype he’s receiving this offseason. The former No. 1 overall pick was on his way to putting up really good stats as a rookie but it was derailed by injury. He’s the reason Bengals fans are optimistic moving forward and why shouldn’t they be?
Here is what Benjamin had to say about Bates, who is 24 years old, being included:
"The best safety you’ve never heard of. Often overshadowed by the lapses of inferior running mates in Cincinnati, Bates has quietly been an ascendant and steady hand at the back end of the secondary, logging at least 100 tackles and three picks in each of his first three seasons. The 2020 All-Pro honors confirmed his rise."
Bates truly is an underrated wonder in the NFL. He’s never been named to a Pro Bowl though let’s be real — The Pro Bowl is a popularity contest more than anything else. With the Bengals not being all that good in recent years, it hurts Bates’ chances of making the Pro Bowl. He’s entering the final year of his rookie deal and should continue to shine for Cincinnati.
The Bengals have two young stars in Joe Burrow and Jessie Bates.
With Cincinnati being a rebuilding team, they have several youngsters on their roster but these two are the leaders on their respective sides of the ball. Burrow obviously is the leader on offense because he’s the quarterback but considering how young he is and that he’s only entering year two, he’s well-respected and that speaks volumes.
I liked what Benjamin said about Bates being the best safety you’ve never heard of because it’s true. Anyone who isn’t a diehard NFL fan probably doesn’t know who he is because A) He’s a Bengal and B) He plays safety.
The Bengals are building something special and while Bates is slated to hit free agency after this season, the hope is that the team can keep him in Cincinnati so he can be a part of the run that’s hopefully about to be had.