Jessie Bates, FS, Wake Forest
Draft Prospect Outlook:
Tall, slightly built, athletic safety with above-average range from center field and quick reaction skills in improvisational role. Hits harder than his frame would suggest. Often dives at the feet of ball-carriers. Tackling is a big issue.
A 247Sports Composite three-star recruit out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bates redshirted in 2015 before being named first-team Freshman All-American for a breakout season with Wake Forest. Bates racked up 100 total tackles (3.5 for loss) as a freshman while intercepting five passes, returning two for touchdowns (against Indiana and Virginia). Bates also served as the team's punt returner, taking 18 punts back for 73 yards.
Bates's numbers weren't as eye-popping in 2017, as he recorded just one interception while totalling 77 tackles (six for loss) and six pass break-ups. He did manage double-digit tackles in back-to-back games against Florida State and Clemson in the middle of the season. Bates didn't see as much action returning punts but did have a 75-yard return against Utah State and also a 59-yard return for a TD against Texas A&M in the Belk Bowl. -- R.J. White