Spot on PFWA All-Rookie Team a Springboard Into 2024 for Cincinnati Bengals Safety Jordan Battle

Bengals safety Jordan Battle's strong season has been rewarded with a spot on the PFWA All-Rookie Team, Cincy's first defender in a half-decade.

CINCINNATICincinnati Bengals safety Jordan Battle’s strong debut season has been rewarded with a spot on the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team.

A third-round pick out of Alabama, Battle’s presence on defense was inconsistent for the first two months of the season, but early in the Week 10 game at Baltimore, he replaced veteran safety Nick Scott and never came out of the lineup again.

All seven rookie draft picks saw the field for the Bengals in 2023, with Battle and second-round cornerback DJ Turner II leading the way in playing time. Turner was tops with 829, while Battle logged 528.

Cincinnati Bengals Safety Jordan Battle Named to All-Rookie Team

But whereas Turner started strong and appeared to hit a rookie wall and ended up losing his starting job late in the season, Battle continued to improve and had one of his best games of the season in the finale, albeit against a group of Cleveland Browns backups.

Battle had a sack and his first career interception in the 31-14 win. He finished with 69 tackles — which ranked fifth on the team despite his lack of playing time early — two sacks, and five passes defensed.

Pro Football Focus ranked Battle ninth among all safeties, ahead of AFC Pro Bowlers Minkah Fitzpatrick and Justin Simmons and NFC Pro Bowlers Budda Baker and Julian Love.

Replacing veterans Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell was the biggest concern heading into the season, and the inability to do so in an effective, cohesive manner contributed significantly to the team’s inability to reach the playoffs for a third consecutive year. Communication issues in the secondary led to repeated explosive plays, with the Bengals giving up 65 receptions of 20+ yards, tied for second most in the league.

But part of that was expected growing pains with Battle manning a secondary that included fellow safety Dax Hill, the 2022 first-round pick who was playing for the first time, veteran Nick Scott, who was in his second season as a starter and first with the Bengals, and fellow rookie Turner.

When the communication was on point, Battle gave glimpses of what the Bengals saw when they drafted him and raved about his football IQ and the number of snaps he played for the Crimson Tide.

Battle is poised to grow into a leadership role in a secondary without much experience after Chidobe Awuzie’s expected departure in free agency.

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Battle admitted that he tamped down his vocal nature and deferred to the veterans this season, but he expects to take on a much bigger leadership next year as a full-time starter, and his appearance on the all-rookie team is a positive springboard into his second season.

Asked how he would assess his rookie season shortly after it ended, Battle said it was mixed.

“I feel I was a little above average,” he said. “Always room for improvement. Being a leader, a good communicator, having all the guys on the same page, that’s something I want to improve on.

“And the explosive plays,” he added. “I know that was a big deal for us this year as a defense. We can’t just understand what we did wrong this year, we have to correct it.”

He will enter 2024 as the presumed starter at strong safety for a Bengals defense that has every starter except Awuzie under contract.

Battle is the first Cincinnati defensive player to be voted to the PFWA All-Rookie team since Bates in 2018. Carl Lawson (2017) is the only other Bengals defender to make an appearance since 2011.

The PFWA named Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud as the Rookie of the Year, while Houston defensive end Will Anderson Jr. — Battle’s teammate at Alabama — was the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Here is the full PFWA All-Rookie Team:

Offense

  • QB – C.J. Stroud, Houston Texas
  • RB – Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions; Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons
  • WR – Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings; Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams
  • TE – Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions
  • C – Joe Tippmann, New York Jets
  • G – Steve Avila, Los Angeles Rams; O’Cyrus Torrence, Buffalo Bills
  • T – Dawand Jones, Cleveland Browns; Darnell Wright, Chicago Bears

Defense

  • DL – Will Anderson Jr., Houston Texans; Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles; Tuli Tuipulotu, Los Angeles Chargers; Kobie Turner, Los Angeles Rams
  • LB – Jack Campbell, Detroit Lions; Ivan Pace Jr., Minnesota Vikings; Byron Young, Los Angeles Rams
  • CB – Joey Porter Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers; Devon Witherspoon, Seattle Seahawks
  • S – Jordan Battle, Cincinnati Bengals; Ji’Ayir Brown, San Francisco 49ers

Special Teams

  • PK – Jake Moody, San Francisco 49ers
  • P – Bryce Baringer, New England Patriots
  • KR – Marvin Mims Jr., Denver Broncos
  • PR – Derius Davis, Los Angeles Chargers
  • ST – Jerrick Reed II, Seattle Seahawks

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