Chris Cooley's favorite pick among Washington's 2021 draft class isn't the slick linebacker, the lineman who could start at left tackle to open the year, the unusually physical corner or the smooth-striding wide receiver.
Instead, the former Burgundy and Gold tight end is most high on the newest Burgundy and Gold tight end: John Bates.
Sure, you could blindly accuse Cooley of some position bias, but if you listen to him review Bates' game on a recent episode of The Kevin Sheehan Show, you'll soon realize it's more than that.
He just really believes that the Boise State product will quickly develop into a useful contributor.
"I love this dude," Cooley told Sheehan. "He's my favorite pick through the draft for them in terms of where they got him."
What's most interesting about Cooley's analysis of Bates is that he's more optimistic about what the rookie could add as a receiver and not what he'll bring as a blocker.
While Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew have both already touted Bates' work along the O-line, Cooley sees him as a dynamic threat just waiting to be used more on throws.
"The thing that I love is he is a natural athlete," Cooley said. "Like, you watch him at Boise State open his body up and make those go-up-and-get-it type catches... He's a natural, down the field threat, more than people actually think."
Download and Subscribe to the Washington Football Talk Podcast
In fact, Cooley was reminded of someone in particular after he dove into Bates' tape.
"His college film kind of reminds me of my college film," he said. "He's not a 'pass catcher' because he ran a 4.8 at Pro Day. You know who else ran a 4.8? I did."
Cooley landed in Washington as a third-round choice, which isn't too different from Bates, who was taken in the fourth round in this year's draft. Cooley went on to log 429 catches and 33 touchdowns with the organization across 117 outings, though, meaning Bates needs to thrive for close to a decade to match the old fan favorite.
It is notable, however, just how glowing that fan favorite is in his praise of Bates. Maybe he does have a shot at earning that "steal" label.
"He made a ton of big plays at Boise," Cooley said. "All around, seems like a true tight end. This guy's going to play a lot this year."