By this point in the draft process, the top of the wide receiver class is pretty well established.
But despite the constant parsing and comparison of the top pass catchers, one name has largely been left out of the conversation. However, Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman made an undeniable impact on the field, particularly during their fantastic 2019 season. That year he racked up over 1,200 yards (20.3 per catch) and 11 touchdowns, helping Minnesota to multiple upsets. His production took a step back after opting out of the 2020 season, then opting back in, then playing just five games. That slip in production could have teams overlooking him, but the traits are there for him to play to his 2019 form.
Could that make Bateman one of the big sleepers — and potential steals — in this draft class?
Prospect: Rashod Bateman
Games Watched: vs. Penn State (2019), vs. Wisconsin (2019), vs. Maryland (2020), vs. Iowa (2020)
Height: 6003 (6-foot 3/8 inches)
Weight: 190 pounds
Arm Length: 33 inches
Hand Span: 9 1⁄2 inches
40 Time: 4.39 seconds
Vertical Leap: 36 inches
Broad Jump: 9-foot-10
Games Played: 31
Yards (YPC): 2,395 (16.3 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 19
Games Played: 5
Yards (YPC): 427 (13.1 per catch)
Total Touchdowns: 2
Best: Size, hands, ball skills, route running, burst, big play ability
Worst: Run after catch
Projection: A starting wide receiver with scheme versatility.
Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman has good size, athleticism, and route running ability for the wide receiver position at the NFL level. While Bateman measured smaller than anticipated at his pro day, he has a good frame, with the height to match up with bigger cornerbacks, long arms to expand his catch radius and the size to win physical battles at the line of scrimmage or at the catch point.
Bateman played on both the left and right side of the offensive formation, typically lining up on the line of scrimmage as an “X” receiver. He was also used as a slot receiver, particularly in his junior season. He took advantage of the space afforded him by the alignment and was a reliable option over the middle.
Bateman is adept at using his foot and handwork to secure clean releases against tight man coverage. He is a savvy route runner, varying his stride length to throw off defenders’ timing, as well as subtle hand and body movements to create separation throughout his routes. In addition to being sudden off the line of scrimmage, Bateman is also explosive out of his breaks, creating initial separation which he is usually able to maintain. He is also able to subtly adjust his routes to find voids in coverage.
Bateman excels on deep passes, and does a very good job of locating, tracking, and adjusting to the ball in the air. Likewise, he is a consistent hands catcher, routinely extending to pluck the ball out of the air. Bateman generally shows good competitive toughness, fighting through tight coverages or in contested catch situations. He is a willing blocker when on the play side of screen passes or running plays and works to engage and sustain his blocks.
Bateman has good stop-start quickness as well as explosiveness, but he only has average ability after the catch. He seems to labor when he has to string multiple moves together, such as in run after catch situations without much room to work. He lacks the ability to consistently make defenders miss and turn quick plays into big gains.
He has good competitive toughness, but does seem to become a spectator when he knows he isn’t in the read progression or on running plays to the opposite side of the field.
Bateman shows a slight hesitation at the very start of his routes. He has a “long” stance and needs to bring his feet closer together before getting off the line of scrimmage and into his route. This might not be a problem at the NFL level, but it could be a tell for opposing DBs.
Overall Grade: 8.7 - This prospect has the traits to start in a variety of schemes and be a consistent producer early in his career.
Rashod Bateman projects as a starting wide receiver with scheme versatility at the NFL level. He will likely be at his best and most productive as an outside receiver in an offense that features vertical concepts. Bateman was a consistent big play threat in Minnesota’s offense, with 15 games averaging more than 15 yards per catch. He is also able to play inside as a “big slot” and is able to take advantage of voids in coverage to be a reliable option over the middle.
Batemen excels at tracking the ball downfield, adjusting and extending to maximize his catch radius. He is a physical receiver at the catch point, doing a good job of fighting through contested catch situations and putting his body between the ball and defender to limit the opportunities for turnovers. He is also a true “hands’’ catcher, routinely plucking the ball out of the air with few drops.
Bateman’s Pro Day testing backed up his status as a big-play threat. And while he doesn’t have truly elite speed, his speed and route running give him very good play speed. Bateman is a strong receiver who can run through arm tackles, which gives him the ability to pick up yards after the catch.
Bateman isn’t being talked about in the same tier as the receivers at the top of the depth chart, but that could just make him an exceptional value for a team selecting later in the draft order. He should quickly become a starter and has the potential to be a “Number 1” receiver in most NFL offenses.