2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: John Bates

John Bates

John Bates has the potential to make it as a classic ‘Y’ tight end or H-Back at the next level, provided teams aren’t fooled by his lack of production at Boise State. Bates can be moved to a variety of spots across a formation, has soft hands, and the frame and technique to be a factor as a blocker. He’s got late-round steal potential for an NFL franchise ready to coach up a prospect.

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: John Bates

Jersey: #85

Position: Tight End

School: Boise State

Class: Redshirt Senior

Height: 6’6″

Weight: 256 lbs

Hands (4/5)

Bates only accumulated a mere 47 catches during his collegiate career. The low number is something of a surprise, considering Bates has soft hands and always lays out well for the ball. He doesn’t snatch at passes thrown his way. Rather, he extends his hands and lets the ball come to a natural stop. Bates’ hands would allow him to become a natural safety valve in the right offense in the pros.

Release (2/5)

Bates is a steady worker in space, but his lack of burst off the line of scrimmage means he often gets jammed up in traffic underneath. When he does, he’s able to use his body to wall defenders off from the ball. The main drawback is the lack of acceleration from takeoff to the top of his routes. This is not a tight end that will stretch the seams vertically too often.

Play Speed (1/5)

Nobody is going to be wowed by Bates’ speed in the open field, nor after he gets the ball in his hands. He won’t accelerate away from pursuit or throw a quick move on a would-be tackler. Most of Bates’ receptions will end at the catch point.

Blocking (4/5)

Bates’ true value for teams willing to take a flier on Day 3 resides in his ability as a blocker. He’s solid and powerful at the point of attack and can generate enough push to put defenders on skates. That push comes from how well Bates anchors in his blocks, setting his feet, bending his knees, and keeping his pads low to win the leverage battle. With a little more work, Bates will be a factor in the running game and be able to reach block NFL defensive ends in pass protection.

Recognition (4/5)

Bates is above average when it comes to reading coverage drops and finding the voids in zone schemes. Take a look at this catch after Bates found the soft spot in a three-deep shell during the Senior Bowl.

Sure hands and keen instincts vs. different coverages prove Bates has the potential to be more of a factor as a receiver at the pro level. His experience as a blocker at Boise State earned him the ability to decipher pass-rush sets and run-defending alignments across a front seven. All of this knowledge should transfer smoothly to life in the NFL.

Agility (2/5)

Bates will find room in the middle of the field, as well as in the red zone. What he won’t do is make the leaping grabs the more athletic players at his position can produce. Mediocre agility is a problem for a tight end who rarely gains enough separation to make completely uncontested catches.

Playmaking (1.5/5)

There’s an obvious disclaimer for Bates’ grade here because of how little Boise State involved him in the passing game. Even so, his modest production as a receiver will remain a concern for teams trying to assess how Bates will develop as a pro. 47 catches for 579 yards and two touchdowns isn’t the strongest indicator of a true playmaker at the next level.

Intangibles (3/5)

Even without gaudy statistics, there are reasons to believe Bates might outperform his draft status. He was a starter for three years in college, proof of how consistently he carried out the various roles his coaches asked him to perform. Among those roles, Bates also played on special teams, an experience that improves his chances of sticking on an NFL roster.

Player Summary

Bates isn’t enough of an athlete to redefine his position the way so many modern tight ends have managed. Yet that doesn’t mean he can’t make it as a reliable option in the right offense. Being versatile enough to work as an in-line tight end or be moved around as an H-Back should get him on the field as a rookie.

Final Grade (21.5/40): Fifth to Seventh-Round Pick.

Player Comp: Hunter Henry

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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