From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#85 John Bates / TE Boise State 6055 259
- Good mental processing versus Zone coverage
- Good hands and ability to adjust to the ball
- Solid pass blocker in slide protection, chipping and on cut blocks
- Aggressive run blocker and gets a good push on down block
- Solid blocker in space and the second level
- Looks to finish blocks on the first level
- Marginal acceleration off the line of scrimmage as a receiver
- Decelerates before getting into his break and slow getting out of breaks
- Does not create separation versus Man coverage
- Not going to bet many yards after the catch
- Poor anchor in pass pro
- Looks behind him in run blocks losing his opponent
- Career – 47 receptions, 579 yards, 12.3 YPR, 2 TD
- 2020 – 12 receptions, 117 yards, 9.8 YPR
- 2019, 2020 All Mountain West Honorable Mention
- 48 games, 30 starts
- 2020 – missed games with hamstring injury and undisclosed injury
- Also competed in basketball and track in high school
- Three-time qualifier for the Oregon State Track Championships, capturing consecutive titles in the 110-meter hurdles (2014-15) in addition to the javelin title in 2015
The Steelers have a need at tight end and the search will be far and wide. This search goes to Idaho to look at John Bates. A Senior Bowl invitee, he was uses primarily as the Y inline tight end but also lined up on the wing, slot and even a few reps at fullback.
In the passing game, he was used on a variety of routes on the first and second levels and did his best work against Zone coverage. He has good mental processing to find the soft spots in Zone coverage and solid hands. He has good body control and is able to adjust to the ball all around his frame as well as high point the ball. Against Man coverage he uses his hands well to avoid jams at the line of scrimmage. As a blocker in pass protection, he has a good base and solid hand placement versus edge rushers. He was solid in slide protection on the backside. He will use an aggressive chip to help teammates and shows very good timing on cut blocks.
At Florida State, Bates (85) is in line to the left and will run an out and up and goes up to make the catch between defenders.
Vs Utah State, lined up wide to the right he runs as quick out and adjust nicely to the throw. Of the receptions I saw this was the only time he made a defender miss.
Vs BYU, on the first play of the game from the left wing he’ll make the catch on the wheel up the left side line.
As a run blocker, he has good quickness at the snap and fires out into his opponent. He uses good leverage and leg drive to get a good push on down blocks and double team blocks. On Zone blocks he has good lateral agility and foot work to get in front of defenders on front side blocks on the outside. He is solid on the second level breaking down early to mirror and wall of defenders. He shows good effort to finish blocks on the first level. From the wing they occasionally used him to wham block or lead block through the middle.
Vs Washington, from the right wing he gets outside and squares up the DB and drives him to the sideline.
Vs Utah State, from the right wing. Very aggressive blocking to the inside and finishes the block putting him on the ground.
Vs Utah State, he is lined up inline on the right and shows the quickness, footwork and hand placement to control his block on the edge.
He has marginal acceleration off the line of scrimmage leading to slow developing routes. He decelerates as he is approaching the break point of his routes. He has marginal acceleration after the break and doesn’t create separation versus Man coverage. Marginal ability to create after the catch with him going down almost immediately after the majority of his receptions. He has a poor anchor in pass pro and gets driven into the pocket. His aggressiveness at the snap will put him over his toes and allow quick defenders to displace him. He has a habit of looking around him to find the runner and loses track of his block instead of blocking to the whistle.
At Florida State, from the left wing he is in solid position initially but you can see him turn to look behind him, losing his block that makes the tackle.
Vs Hawaii, from the left wing he run a dig route and unfortunately this routes is just too slow. No acceleration at the start, deceleration at the break and slow out of the break.
Vs Washington, he gets over his toes and the defender is able to shed him easily.
Overall, Bates has good mental processing vs Zone coverage, solid hands, adjusts to the ball well and is an effective cut blocker. He is an aggressive run blocker, able to get a good push on down block and get out in space. He also had over 500 special team plays in his collegiate career. Areas to improve include his route running as whole, pass protection on the edge and being more balance and focused on run blocks.
Bates has the potential to be a solid run blocker in the NFL who can be used in short area passes. He is limited as a receiver due to speed, route running and a poor ability to separate versus Man coverage. For the Steelers he could compete to be the #2 tight end to be relied primarily as a blocker and special team player.
Projection: Late Day 3
Games Watched: 2019 – At Florida State, Vs Hawaii, Vs Washington; 2020 – Vs Utah State, Vs BYU