Skip to main content

'It's no question': Arguing the All-Pro case for Falcons safety Jessie Bates III

Bates has had a career year with the Falcons in 2023, but how does he stack up to other premier safeties in the NFL? 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Jessie Bates III has a new nickname.

"AP JB" is what the veteran safety is now commonly known as in the Falcons locker room.

Fellow safety Micah Abernathy is said to have coined the term, and after Bates' sixth interception last Sunday — a career-high — the nickname (the Falcons hope) foreshadows an Associated Press All-Pro selection.

"That's what we call him around here," Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell said.

Just this week Terrell posted an Instagram story with the catchy slogan when campaigning for his fellow defensive back.

Bates' teammates aren't wrong. The six-year safety is having a stellar season after signing with Atlanta in the offseason.

But what exactly makes Bates All-Pro worthy?

"What doesn't?," defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen said. "I mean, the guy does everything. When you're looking at the whole package, you're going, 'Where is a weakness in the guy's game?'"

Bates is tied for first among safeties and ranks second overall in the NFL with six interceptions, including one he returned for a 92-yard touchdown. With 117 total tackles, Bates is one of only two safeties who sit in the top-20 in the league in the tackling category. He's also tied for fourth in forced fumbles amongst all positions with three. 

Here's how he compares statistically to other premier safeties in the league:

Table inside Article
Jessie Bates III Atlanta Falcons 15 117 6 (1 pick-6) 11 3
Justin Simmons Denver Broncos 13 61 (1 sack) 3 8 2
Antoine Winfield Tampa Bay Buccaneers 15 110 (5 sacks) 3 12 5
Geno Stone Baltimore Ravens 15 60 6 8 0
Kyle Hamilton Baltimore Ravens 15 81 (3 sacks) 4 (1 pick-6) 13 1

Among safeties in the league, Bates ranks first in total tackles and interceptions, where he's tied with Stone.

When reflecting on last year's first-team safeties — Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers and Talanoa Hufanga, San Francisco 49ers — the Falcons safety has essentially surpassed majority of their numbers already through Week 16.

Table inside Article
Minkah Fitzpatrick Pittsburgh Steelers 15 96 6 (1 for TD) 11 0
Talanoa Hufanga San Francisco 49ers 17 97 4 (1 pick-6) 9 2

To put a resume together like that of Bates' in 2023 doesn't come easy. It takes tireless dedication and preparation. Falcons defensive end Calais Campbell knows this personally after he was named an All-Pro in 2017 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"He's cut from a different cloth, he's a special kind of guy," Campbell said of Bates. "Not many guys can be Jessie Bates."

The hours of studying opposing team film have translated to the stat sheet this season, but this is nothing new for Bates.

"I always thought that what I brought to the table was some of the best work in this league," Bates said. "That's what I believe in."

What is new is an extended leadership role.

After Falcons defensive stalwart Grady Jarrett went down with a season-ending injury in Week 8, Bates stepped into becoming a vocal leader.

It's a development that's trended upwards, just like his knack for intercepting passes. It's amounted to a locker room full of players echoing the nickname, "AP JB."

When asked about Bates' impact in 2023, Terrell said simply: "It's no question" that Bates is All-Pro bound.

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch for the game against the Chicago Bears, presented by Fast Twitch by Gatorade.

Related Content