Cincinnati Bengals: Jessie Bates
Last year’s choice: Geno Atkins
If we were picking for more than just one season then the pick from the Cincinnati Bengals would obviously be Ja’Marr Chase. Chase has WR1 written all over him and there is a chance that in three short years he is one of, if not the, best wide receivers in the entire league.
However, as a one-year experiment with the depth in the receiver room, it would value the Chargers more to go elsewhere. Chase is already better than Tyron Johnson and might even be better than Mike Williams, but there would be a bigger positive impact if the Chargers added safety, not receiver.
Plus, I have been a big Jessie Bates guy since he came out of Wake Forest and he really showed that potential in 2020. He was a fine young safety in his first two years in the league but his third season was the one where he really stood out as one of the better young safeties in the league.
It is not insane to say that Bates could one day be an All-Pro if he continues on this path. He definitely has more work to do, but it is not impossible. He definitely will get some Pro Bowl nods under his belt.
Bates is a natural free safety so he would work perfectly in this defense next to Derwin James. The two of them would give the Chargers a truly dynamic pairing at the backend of that secondary that would essentially take away the deep-ball altogether.
These two in Brandon Staley’s split-zone coverage, which the Chargers hardly ran last year, would be a thing of beauty.