WFT fourth-round pick John Bates impressed Ron Rivera with this pre-draft statement

Peter Hailey
·2 min read
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John Bates impressed Ron Rivera with this pre-draft statement originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Washington fourth-round pick John Bates told reporters this past weekend that Washington's Ron Rivera was the only head coach he spoke to one-on-one leading up to the draft.

"That was kind of a unique thing," Bates said.

Clearly, their conversation went well. The Washington Football Team took Bates early on Saturday, even as some more touted tight ends were still in play.

And in a Saturday interview with JP Finlay and the Washington Football Talk podcast, Rivera revealed the specific part of his talk with Bates that was so impressive.

At Boise State, Bates wasn't involved much when the Broncos chose to drop back; the most grabs he posted in a season was 22, and he only found the end zone twice in his college career.

So, Rivera brought that up while on Zoom with Bates, and soon after he did, he knew he was chatting with a worthy prospect.

"One of my questions to John was, 'Hey, shouldn't they have thrown more balls to you?'" Rivera told Finlay. "He said, 'Coach, I just did what they asked me to do because it's important and that's what the team needed me to do.'

"I thought, 'What a great answer that is,'" Rivera continued. "This is a very unselfish football player, the kind that you want on your football team."

While most leaders in the NFL put an emphasis on finding guys who care more about the roster as a whole than their individual success, Rivera especially values that type of attitude. Therefore, it's no surprise to learn that Bates' response resonated so much with Washington's head man.

As for how Bates projects as a pro, Rivera does believe his new rookie can do more with his hands. 

"He has a tremendous catch radius," Rivera said on the podcast.

It's worth noting that on ESPN's broadcast, analyst Todd McShay said that Bates "catches the ball as well as any player not named [Kyle] Pitts." That's a serious nugget from one of the more hardcore draft experts there is.

Rivera, though, thinks Bates should have a role right away doing something that isn't glorious yet is still awfully critical.

"He's a polished blocker who we think can get better," Rivera said. "That's exciting."

So much of the NFL is about its massive names, but it's the niche guys who make up the bulk of every squad. They aren't the ones who star in highlights, but they often are the ones who handle the little details that make those highlights possible. 

As of now, it sounds like Bates is destined to develop into that sort of contributor, and Rivera envisions him excelling as he does.

"He's a guy that we believe is really going to fit right in," Rivera said.