Heading into the NFL draft, Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates III was a popular selection among the mock experts for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sadly for Bates, he was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in Round 2 after the Steelers opted for Terrell Edmunds with their top pick instead.
The rookie safety might have two established starters playing ahead of him in George Iloka and Shawn Williams, but he still figures to see a significant number of snaps this year. Eager for the season to began, Bates even has some key games picked out from the 2018 schedule that he’s particularly looking forward to, as he told D.C Hendrix of Sideline Sports Report.
“A couple of games I’m looking forward to is playing the Colts Week 1 obviously. I look forward to playing the Steelers, just because that’s our rival and the hype behind that game is pretty cool to me. Going back to North Carolina Week 3 will be nice. Hopefully I can see Wake fans there at that game. And last is the Raiders, seeing one of my best friends from Wake (linebacker Marquel Lee) and being able to jersey swap with him will be awesome.”
Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bates’ excitement about playing his opening game in his home state is understandable, but he should be careful about getting too excited to play the Steelers.
Considering he has only been with the Bengals for a few months and would have had limited contact with the veterans on the roster, it’s interesting to note that Bates has already heard a lot about Pittsburgh from his teammates in the short time he has been there. Although, you have to wonder what they have told him and if he really understand the nature of these contests.
Safe to say, Bates has never had to cover a wide receiver like Antonio Brown or tackle a running back like Le’Veon Bell in the open field, and the experience might not be one he’ll savor. Dre Kirkpatrick should be able to let Bates know how it feels to get stiff-armed like a basketball bouncing off of the turf and everyone in the organization should be able to let him know how it feels to be owned by your rival.
After losing 9 of their last 10 to Pittsburgh, including the last six games, it would probably be more appropriate if his teammates had told Bates not to get his hopes up too much for their games against the Steelers.