FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Jessie Bates III tried to keep his cool – but then he hugged his mother.
The Snider alumni and safety out of Wake Forest was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 54th selection in the second round of the NFL Draft. The emotions were evident on Friday night in Fort Wayne.
Bates was supported by fellow Fort Wayne native who was also drafted in the second round in 2016 in Jaylon Smith.
Following his career with the Panthers, Bates took his talents to Wake Forest. He redshirted his first year for the Demon Deacons but made a big impact the following season. In just two years on the field for Wake Forest, Bates totaled 179 tackles, 9.5 for loss and six interceptions (including two that he returned to the endzone).
Teams in the NFL were impressed with his ball skills while defending the pass and also his versatility by being able to return punts.
Cincinnati had just 11 interceptions a season ago which ranked in the bottom half of the NFL. Added to that, only one player on the Bengals had multiple picks last year.