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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 06, 2018 1:00 am

Bates earns accolades on final day of NFL combine

Kyle Rowland | For The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – For defensive backs, the 40-yard dash is the Super Bowl.

The final day of the NFL scouting combine was all about speed, as cornerbacks and safeties took turns running down a 40-yard swath of the sideline in Lucas Oil Stadium.

“It's almost like preparing for a track meet,” said former Snider standout Jessie Bates III, who ran his in 4.51 seconds.

The former Wake Forest safety focused the past two months on explosiveness. His goal was in the 4.49- to mid-4.5 range.

Mission accomplished.

“That's a good time for him,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who has Bates ranked as the fourth-best safety. “He's more of a free safety who can drop down and cover slots. I watched the Louisville tape and watched him run the alley against Lamar Jackson, and it was fun to watch him make tackles.”

How about playing for the defending Super Bowl champions? NJ Advance Media reported that the Philadelphia Eagles used one of their formal meetings to sit down with Bates. The meetings are valuable because teams are allocated only 60 such sit-downs.

The Eagles own the No. 32 overall pick and don't have another pick until the fourth round. Bates is expected to be gone by the second or third round.

Gavino Borquez, who writes for USA Today's Los Angeles Chargers' website, tweeted “Jessie Bates III will establish himself as a first-round talent after his Combine performance. He excels at covering the middle deep zone. Combination of ball skills, instincts and range will be similar to Marcus Williams.”

Williams was selected in the second round – 42nd overall – last year.

Versatility usually pertains to traits on the football field. For Bates, it involves sports played in high school, especially baseball. During the combine, Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who also played Major League Baseball, said he loves when defensive backs have a baseball background.

“You know why?” Sanders said. “Because they can track the ball.”

As Bates completed his 40 time, it became readily apparent that his multiday job interview and introduction to the NFL was a job well done.

“This is my dude,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “He's a good player. There's no hesitation in his transition. He goes, he sees it, he cuts it loose.”