A three-sport high school superstar and elite athlete, does Boise State tight end John Bates have an impressive enough athletic profile to hear his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft? His participation in the Reese’s Senior Bowl helped bring more buzz around his name, but what kind of player is Bates? His showing at the Senior Bowl helped answer some questions, but his career path to the NFL is unquestionably an unorthodox one.
John Bates NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Tight End
- School: Boise State
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’5 3/8″
- Weight: 250 pounds
- Wingspan: 79 1/4″
- Arm: 32 1/2″
- Hand: 9 5/8″
Tony Pauline’s John Bates Scouting Report
Positives: Three-year starter who recorded a career-best 22 catches as a junior. A large, tough tight end who is effective in all facets of the position. Bends his knees, blocks with leverage, and fires off the snap into defenders. Explosive at the point, plays heads-up football, and works blocks. Solid route runner, stays low exiting breaks, and makes the reception with his hands. Extends and snatches the ball out of the air, making the difficult catch in a crowd. Possesses focus as well as eye/hand coordination.
Negatives: Slow, plays to one speed, and lacks a burst. Average athlete.
Analysis: Bates was a consistent college player who looked good during three days of Senior Bowl practices as both a pass catcher and a blocker. He lacks great upside but is a solid football player who can make an NFL roster as a third tight end.
John Bates Player Profile
John Bates is not a well-known name among the NFL Draft community. His time at Boise State was unproductive as he was consistently a third or fourth option in the passing game and usually brought in to work as a blocker. However, he was a dominant track athlete in high school, and his athletic profile could lead to a more productive career in the NFL.
Occasionally, Bates would show his talent. Splash plays showed body control, natural hands, and quality vertical speed. It’s easy to see how a team could love his traits and raise him up their draft board, but the lack of real production heavily weighs down his draft stock. What does Bates bring to the table as a draft prospect, and why should a team take a chance on him in the upcoming NFL Draft?
The three-sport superstar
In high school, John Bates was the definition of a superstar. He was an All-State football player, All-Conference basketball player, and state champion track and field athlete. In track, Bates participated in the 110-meter hurdles, javelin, long jump, and triple jump.
His athletic ability can’t be understated, and it’s evident when he takes the field. Due to these physical tools, Bates was considered a consensus three-star prospect coming out of high school. He selected Boise State and redshirted his first season.
John Bates’ Boise State career
The Boise State tight end won’t go down in the school’s history books as one of the greatest to play on the blue. However, Bates brought in a level of consistency that the team missed at the tight end position.
In his first year in Boise, Bates redshirted, and in his second year, he was third on the depth chart. He produced 3 receptions for 34 yards. In his sophomore season, Bates competed for the top tight end spot with teammate Chase Blakley. Blakley finished the season with more receptions, but Bates had more yards and three times the yards per reception, showing off his big play ability.
In his junior year, Bates took over as the Broncos’ top tight end. He doubled his receptions and nearly doubled his yards. He also found the end zone one time against Air Force. Bates remained the top tight end in the offense in his final season, finishing fourth on the team in yards and fifth in receptions. His 12.3 yards per receptions were indicative of his ability to make plays down the field.
Now, John Bates prepares for the 2021 NFL Draft, with his career at Boise behind him.
Analyzing John Bates’ NFL Draft profile
John Bates fits the exact mold the NFL is moving to. He’s a strong athlete who creates separation and is a mismatch to slower linebackers and smaller defensive backs. Bates can be an effective tight end, but his coaches must utilize his athletic ability correctly.
His lack of real production severely limits how high he can be drafted. He also tested slightly worse than expected at his pro day, with a 4.84 40-yard dash and a 31.5 vertical. His profile was redeemed, however, by a 120-inch broad jump and a 6.85 three-cone.
Bates has shown some skills that scouts look for. Things like his body control and concentration at the catch point have both flashed from time to time. He also looks like a natural hands catcher. Ideally, his route running could be a strength given his athletic ability, but he has much-needed development before he gets there.
The NFL Draft is often unpredictable, so it’s hard to pinpoint just how much front offices will like a player like Bates.
John Bates’ best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
The Boise State tight end is best suited to join a team where the pressure to perform isn’t immense. Somewhere with a set TE1, who could use the extra boost of athletic ability in its depth chart. He’ll need a coaching staff willing to utilize his traits in space.
Likewise, Kansas City and Andy Reid would be ideal for Bates. He could sit behind Travis Kelce, learning the tight end position’s nuances and providing an alternative should Kelce get injured or require a few plays off. Somewhere like the New York Jets could also make sense, as Bates’ physical profile is somewhat similar to George Kittle’s, and the Jets’ offensive staff is mostly former 49ers assistants.
Wherever Bates is drafted, though, don’t expect an immediate impact. Tight ends have a steep learning curve coming into the NFL, and Bates will be no different. However, he has the athleticism to take advantage of his opportunities if he survives the indoctrination to the NFL game.