Former Boise State tight end John Bates was picked by the Washington football team with the 19th pick in 4th round (No. 124 overall) Saturday in the NFL Draft.
He is the first tight end from Boise State drafted since the Buffalo Bills selected Derek Schouman in the seventh round in 2007. He’s also the highest drafted tight end in program history, surpassing Dave Stachelski, who was picked No. 141 overall by the Patriots in 2000.
This year marks the first time since 2018 that Boise State didn’t have a player picked in the first three rounds, but the Broncos have had a player drafted for 12 straight years, dating back to 2010. Hearing his name called is a moment Bates will never forget.
“It means the world to me,” Bates told the Statesman Saturday afternoon. “There are so many emotions right now, and I’m just happy to see all the hard work pay off.”
Bates and his family spent Saturday in an Airbnb and were joined by several of his Boise State teammates and the Broncos’ tight ends coach Kent Riddle.
Bates’ father, Geno, said the family was sitting around watching the draft on TV, expecting to wait a little longer, when his son’s phone chirped to life.
Moments later, the celebration was on and Geno said he had to hold back tears while hugging the youngest of his three children.
“Just pure excitement,” Geno Bates told the Statesman Saturday afternoon. “It’s amazing to see your child achieve his childhood dream. It’s not something that happens every day.”
The pick was a bit of a surprise, given that higher rated tight ends were still available, such as Miami’s Brevin Jordan, and that most experts projected Bates to come off the board in the fifth round.
Surprising or not, Washington’s pick earned praise from ESPN’s top two draft analysts.
“I think the best is yet to come for John Bates,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said.
“I think he catches the ball as well as any tight end in this class, not named Pitts,” ESPN’s Todd McShay added.
Bates said Saturday that he wasn’t shocked that Washington picked him, though. He had a conference call with Washington head coach Ron Rivera on Monday, and he walked away from that conversation feeling positive.
“We talked a little bit of football and a lot about life and culture and those things,” Bates said. “I think we see a lot of things eye to eye.”
Bates said he’ll head to Washington DC sometime in the next two weeks and jump right into offseason workouts.
“Obviously now it’s about getting in the building, working hard and earning the respect of the rest of the guys in the building,” he said.
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Oregon native was in Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl in January, and he earned an invite to the NFL Combine, which was canceled this year because of the ongoing pandemic.
At his pro day, he posted a 4.8-second 40-yard dash, 19 reps on the bench press and a 31.5-inch vertical leap.
His size should serve him well as a blocker in the NFL, but Bates really seemed to his his stride as a receiver early last season, matching his career-high with five receptions in each of the Broncos’ first two games. But he suffered a hamstring injury the following week against BYU and his role in the offense was limited the rest of the season.
In Washington, Bates joins a position group that was led last season by former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, who caught 72 passes for 670 yards and six touchdowns.
Bates joined the Broncos as a three-star recruit in 2016 and appeared in 46 games over the next four seasons. He finished his college career with 47 catches for 579 yards and two touchdowns.
Boise State special teams ace Avery Williams is still on the board. Many projections have him being selected in the seventh round.