REGGIE HAYES: Time ticking down before former Snider standout Jessie Bates III’s biggest NFL job interview

Wake Forest defensive back Jessie Bates III (3) rushes with the ball ahead of Boston College tight end Korab Idrizi, left, after intercepting a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Sept. 9 in Boston. (Photo by the Associated Press)

In little over a week’s time, Fort Wayne’s Jessie Bates III will be in Indianapolis performing at the NFL Combine. It’s a job interview with the volume turned up to 11.

Not only will Bates have to perform on the field, demonstrating his speed, strength and quickness, but he’ll also have to be mentally sharp for pointed interviews and even some odd questions.

The opportunity at the end of the combine is limitless, which is what he had in mind when the former Snider High School standout left Wake Forest University after his redshirt sophomore year to turn professional.

I’ve talked to Bates twice since his decision and I have little doubt he’ll ace the interview sessions. He’s thoughtful, straightforward and intelligent. The NFL general managers and coaches who meet with him should have no qualms about the character he possesses, which is a major reason they conduct those interviews.

RELATED STORY: Former Snider standout Jessie Bates III gearing up for NFL Combine

RELATED STORY: Fort Wayne’s Jessie Bates III leaves Wake Forest to pursue NFL dream

As for Bates’ physical skills, he proved those were ample at Wake Forest and he’s been working diligently in Florida to improve all aspects of that part of his “job interview.”

Word gets around, and one of the best endorsements Bates could find came last week when Mike Mayock of NFL.com and the NFL Network listed him as the No. 4 safety in the draft behind Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, Florida State’s Derwin James and Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison.

Not long after Mayock’s listing, Arrowheadpride.com, a site devoted to the Kansas City Chiefs, made the case for drafting Bates in the second or third round. Writer Kent Swanson pointed out several positives about Bates’ games gleaned from film study.

“Bates would look excellent on the back end of the Chiefs defense in a free safety role,” Swanson wrote. “He has the range and ball skills to allow the Chiefs to play aggressive man coverage with him as a single high. He tackles well in space, and I saw several touchdown and big-play saving tackles coming up from a single-high role as the last line of defense.”

Another side, Withthefirstpick.com calls Bates “a fast rising” prospect who is “turning some heads thanks to his combination of length and quickness. Bates also flashes strong instincts that could make him a major turnover threat.”

A report from 247Sports.com detailing the Seattle Seahawks’ possible interest in Bates featured a gushing quote from draft analyst Tony Pauline.

“Eyebrows were raised when Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates III announced he was entering the draft, but this was primarily from people unfamiliar with his game,” Pauline is quoted as saying. “Bates’ film is impressive – he’s an athletic centerfielder who plays with excellent speed, displays great range and really stands out in pass coverage.”

Not everyone is enamored with Bates, however. WalterFootball.com gave him a “D” for declaring. “He’s good enough to be chosen on Day 3, but that’s about it,” the report said. “Just a redshirt sophomore. Bates should have gone back to school to improve his game.”

CBS Sports lists Bates as the sixth-best available free safety entering the draft.

The good part for Bates is that a strong Combine performance weighs into an NFL team’s decision and will be viewed in tandem with his college performance. He was outstanding much of his time at Wake Forest, earning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year as a redshirt freshman.

While the combine workouts start a week from today, Bates and the defensive backs come in later in the weekend and work out on Monday, March. 5.

There’s no bigger job interview for Bates, and he has shown over the past few weeks preparation will not be an issue.

OTHER LOCAL NFL COMBINE PARTICIPANTS

Josh Adams RB Notre Dame

Mike McGlinchey OT Notre Dame

Quenton Nelson G Notre Dame

Durham Smythe TE Notre Dame

Equanimeous St. Brown WR Notre Dame

Anthony Winbush DE Ball State

Simmie Cobbs WR Indiana

Chris Covington OLB Indiana

Rashard Fant CB Indiana

Tegray Scales ILB Indiana

Ian Thomas TE Indiana

Eddy Wilson DT Purdue

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com.

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