Zac Taylor On Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell After Drafting Daxton Hill: The Guys ‘Understand We’re Just Trying To Win Football Games’

The Cincinnati Bengals, on paper, have two established starters at the safety position in their defensive backfield with Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell. That did not stop them from drafting a couple of safeties this past weekend, including one with their first-round draft pick in Daxton Hill.

Bates is currently slated to play under the franchise tag this year. The team has been pretty open about the fact that they tried to sign him to a contract extension in 2021, but they couldn’t come to terms on a deal. It’s not clear that they will successfully sign an extension this year, either. Naturally, he was a topic after Hill was drafted.

We just added a really good player to the room that’s going to help us on defense and helps us get back to where we want to go”, head coach Zac Taylor said when he was asked after the first day of the draft what kind of message he was sending to Bates and Bell. “The guys on the team understand we’re just trying to win football games and add any piece that can do it”.

“This guy, like [defensive coordinator] Lou [Anarumo] mentioned, can be a third safety but can also play a lot of different roles for you”, he went on. “So it’s not that simple to say he’s just a one-position type of guy. He can really come in and help us a lot of different ways in combination with Vonn and Jessie”.

Meanwhile, we haven’t heard from Bates yet since the draft, and I’m going to guess that he doesn’t have plans to show up for OTAs. It may be worth noting that Bell, too, is only under contract through the 2022 season, by the way.

The Bengals took a second safety in the fifth round in Tycen Anderson, the third defensive back out of their top five draft picks, and making up half of their entire six-player class. He was regarded as a mid-round prospect, potentially even a late Day 2 player, so to get him in the fifth round was certainly good value, based on pre-draft projections.

As far as the 2022 season goes, though, the defense can get Hill on the field by playing in in the slot, something that he did last year and which he insists that he’s comfortable doing. Three-safety defensive packages are also far from uncommon in general.

Drafting a safety in the first round, though, doesn’t look good for Bates’ long-term future, especially since Hill is more of a free safety than a strong safety. And they’re also setting up for the future, specifically with regards to quarterback Joe Burrow’s inevitable pay day, which could come as soon as 2023.

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