Teams looking for a wide receiver who just knows how to get open in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft should do their homework on Rashod Bateman. The former Minnesota standout didn't put up impressive numbers this past fall before opting out after five games but he was the Big Ten's Richter–Howard Receiver of the Year in 2019 when he played alongside former teammate and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Tyler Johnson. Bateman may not wow with his athletic ability but he has more than enough skills to develop into a productive complementary wideout.
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Rashod Bateman Draft Profile
Some receivers have a knack for creating separation, and that’s Bateman’s game. He plays with an innate sense for setting up his routes and leveraging defensive backs, especially early in the down. He has the functional strength to beat the jam and shows tremendous feel for stemming his routes and manipulating his man early in the down. He uses his frame well and snatches the ball away from his body with sure hands, making him adept on in-breaking routes. He shows the ability to track and high-point the ball downfield, working the sideline effectively and emerging as a big-play threat. He’ll find his way into soft spots against zone coverage and will make plays in traffic. He’ll mix it up as a blocker on the outside as well.
He has good size but isn’t an off-the-charts athlete, and we’ll see how he fares against stickier man-coverage corners in the NFL. There’s a lack of suddenness in his movements off the line of scrimmage, and big corners will be able to stall him in press coverage. And while he’s adept at making catches as a possession receiver, he is not a major YAC threat. His long speed is middling, and he seems unlikely to make anywhere near as many downfield plays as he did at Minnesota.
Bateman will likely be able to play any of the three receiver spots, and he should at least emerge as a quality possession receiver with a knack for making plays in the red zone and on third down. His ceiling isn’t locked in, but he might ultimately top out as quality No. 2 rather than true No. 1.
Final Grade: 1st/2nd round
(Top photo courtesy of Minnesota Athletics)