Jordan Battle Update: Bengals Draft Day Steal Looking For Former Bama Teammate Jermaine Burton To Continue Heist As NFL’s Top-Rated Rookie Safety Eyes Encore

The Cincinati Bengals

Speaking of NFL Draft Steals, we give you a Jordan Battle update amid all the buzz of this year’s potential Bengals’ burglaries.

Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton at No. 80. Texas Christian cornerback Josh Newton at No. 149. Miami center Matt Lee at No. 237

Jordan Battle Update: Bengals Draft Day Steal Looking For Former Bama Teammate Jermaine Burton To Continue Heist As NFL's Top-Rated Rookie Safety Eyes Encore
Jordan Battle Update: Bengals Draft Day Steal Looking For Former Bama Teammate Jermaine Burton To Continue Heist As NFL’s Top-Rated Rookie Safety Eyes Encore

Remember Battle? In a blurring offseason of safety activity (the signing of AFC interceptions leader Geno Stone, the move of Dax Hill to cornerback, the return of playoff hero and locker-room Sensei Vonn Bell), here’s a quick review:

After the Bengals took him with the 95th pick in last year’s late third round, Battle charged out of Alabama and grabbed a starting job with seven games left in a playoff push. With two sacks, five passes defensed, and 69 tackles, he ended up as Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded rookie safety and No. 8 overall.

“Endurance,” Battle is saying Thursday of one of his offseason priorities. “Be able to handle more; making it through the fourth quarter.”

Then he walked out to the floor of the Kettering Health Performance Center and met his new position coach, old NFL safety Jordan Kovacs. The Jordans sparked a competition, stepping on the vertical climber across from each other and proceeding to grind through 12 sets of 30-second torture.

“Good burn,” says Kovas, a half-an-hour huff later. “We’ll do it every Thursday. This is the first time. I like to work with guys. You can get a good feel for who the person really is when he’s digging deep in a workout. He was digging. Jordan is a competitive guy.”

Battle, a steel-belted product of 54 games in a Nick Saban defense, is also a serious sort whose game is as much about acumen as it is athleticism. After his scheduled workout, Battle went back into the locker room and donned a sweatshirt for the Kovacs Climb.

“My message to him in our first couple of meetings has been to take the next step,” Kovas says. “Keep getting a little better each day. Always be working on something. He’s a smart kid.”

There’s no question the Bengals want to keep developing Battle and there’s no question they view Bell as a huge factor in that development, as well as in the education of their other young safeties. How it plays out remains to be seen, but it’s clear both are going to play big roles for the 2024 Bengals.

“Vonn is going to be a great veteran for the room. Great for a guy like Jordan who didn’t necessarily have that at times last year,” Kovacs says. “We love Vonn for not only what he does on the field, but the tone that he sets in the meeting room and off the field. The culture that he sets. Having a guy like that around a guy like Jordan Battle is going to be very beneficial. We were missing that last year.”

During Bell’s one-year hiatus in Carolina, guys like Battle and Stone joined the club but his legacy as a coach-on-the-field during the Bengals’ run to two straight conference championship games is well known.

You can see it already. Stone comes in from his workout and doesn’t go to his locker, but he plops down at a locker across from Bell as they lean into talk. Stone is also doing the Vonn Dawn workout, joining some of Bell’s early-morning sessions. Battle says he’s talked a couple of times to Bell on the brief bus ride to the workouts, as well as during one recent bowling night with some of their teammates.

“Great conversations,” Battle says. “Just his aura when he walks in the locker room. Everybody sees it and everybody welcomes Vonn.

“Whatever I can learn to elevate my game and reach the next level. He’ll be a great help to the team.”

Battle is continuing to emphasize tackling, as well as working on his moves in space.

“One thing I feel like I did get better at late in the season is be full speed at the ball, full speed at the ball carrier, and give him limited movements to make me miss,” Battle says.

“I’m trying to be better in the middle of the field. Trying to break off the quarterback, knowing where his targets are, being able to break on the ball and make plays.”

Battle also wants to help his defense “limit the explosives and get off the field on third down.” He says some of those big pass plays that plagued them last season were caused by youth, as well as “bonehead mistakes that had nothing to do with the other team and everything to do with us.”

  • A Coach’s Son, Bengals Rookie Safety Jordan Battle Arrives Well-Schooled
  • What We Have Here Is A Rookie Communicating Like A Vet as Bengals Defense Gets It Going
  • From Walk-On Player To Hands-On Coach, Kovacs Takes Over Bengals Safeties: ‘No One Was Going To Outwork Jordan’

It turns out the draft is a small world. The Bengals hope to have another draft day steal with another third-rounder from Alabama in wide receiver Jermaine Burton. Battle played with the 80th pick for one season and played against him when Burton was at Georgia.

“Very explosive. Very quiet. He moved around a little bit, transferred schools. Maybe the hype around him wasn’t what it needed to be,” Battle says. “He was very smooth, very fast out of his cuts. He was exploding on the outside to create separation.

“That showed up a lot with Bryce (Young) ) throwing the ball downfield. One year it was (Jaylen Waddle) and then he was going downfield to Jermaine Burton. There was trust Bryce had in him and the coaches had in him knowing when they were throwing downfield, he would be there to catch it.”

Then there’s the matter of those 18 yards per catch in 50 SEC games. Battle thinks it transfers to making an impact in the NFL.

“That’s tough. In the SEC, there’s a lot of man coverage, a lot of double teams, and match coverages,” Battle says. “That means he’s creating separation, that means he’s beating guys downfield, or it means he’s catching it and then running with it and getting that YAC. You have to be able to beat man and get separation.”

As far as the intangibles, just like his coaches and Bengals say, Battle says Burton is going to be just fine and be a good teammate.

“Cool teammate on and off the field. He’d like to get out and chill with his teammates,” Battle says. “He’ll get along fine with the guys on the team. Whenever he was on the field, he practiced hard. He should be fine.”

So should Battle and Kovas. The coach had a couple of hundred more steps at the end of Thursday. But since that was Battle’s first day on the machine, Kovacs expects him to get acclimated and churn out longer footage.

Maybe enough for a win?

“Probably not,” says Kovacs, kiddingly adding fuel to a burn.

Read more about the Bengals

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