NFL Draft: Baseball should put DB Jessie Bates III on Bills’ Radar
By: Evan Zinger
Sean McDermott has publicly stated that he likes defensive backs that have a baseball background. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer both played baseball in the past, and to be brutally honest, Hyde and Poyer were relatively average players and before they signed with the Bills.
Could that be why McDermott was able to get so much out of them?
Of Hyde’s background in baseball, McDermott said, “You don’t find that so much anymore in some of these young men that come out. You see that in the ball skills, his ability to track the ball.”
While scouting games as a member of the Carolina Panthers, McDermott would frequently be watching Packers games and recognized that tracking skill that Hyde had, which was likely a large reason why he was brought to Buffalo. Hyde even claims that after his famous backhanded one-hand interception, his mother texted him claiming, “That’s why I put you in baseball.”
Poyer was considering playing baseball instead of football at Oregon State, and when he made his deci-sion to go with football he claimed that it was one of the hardest decisions that he ever had to make.
Another defensive back that played baseball and is projected to go in the mid-to-late 2nd round in the draft this year is Jessie Bates III out of Wake Forest.
Bates is a defensive back that checks almost all the boxes in terms of the ups and the downs of a solid prospect. He is very athletic, can go sideline to sideline, and has the speed to make up any ground he may have lost. He also has great anticipation on the ball and is very good at tracking it; baseball might have been playing another factor here.
As a defensive back, there are four baseball tools to be concerned with, and he exceeds in all of them. He exhibits power (physical), speed, fielding (coverage), and contact.
His one knock is his discipline; not so much with penalties, but knowing when to make a certain kind of play. Bates sometimes shows a tendency to go for a big hit as opposed to simply wrapping up a ball carrier, and while he knows when to break on the ball, he can get the idea in his head that he can get a pick 6 even though it would be more efficient to swat the ball away.
Bates’ biggest attribute of all is his versatility. Out of the five main defensive back spots, the Bills have a need in two of them, assuming they cannot get EJ Gaines signed: outside corner depth and a starter at nickel.
Leonard Johnson wasn’t a huge liability at nickel, but you can get better.
Bates has even lined up at safety throughout his college career. While he has the most experience at safety, coach McDermott knows how to get the most out of his defensive backs, and Bates’ athletic skills and skills at safety may make him easier to convert into a corner in a zone defense.
He can also return kicks too, that might be worth mentioning. Bates would be a solid pickup for the Bills in the draft with one of their late second round picks.