Prospect Profile: WR Rashod Bateman
Jake Pittman - 3/3/2021
Rashod Bateman is a 6’2" 209-pound WR from Minnesota University. Bateman has been one of the backbones of Minnesota’s passing attack ever since finding himself on the field for their squad. He proved that he had what it takes to make it in the league as a top WR in 2019 when he caught 60 passes for 1219 yards and 11 TDs. Bateman showed that he was a well-rounded and reliable pass catcher throughout his career for the Golden Gophers. He projects to be a late first round or early second round draft pick, and has been lumped into the same tier as fellow stud WR Rondale Moore.
Rashod Bateman is what I envision as the prototypical NFL wide receiver. He has great size and is also strong, physical and smart. When watching him the first thing I noticed was how intelligent he is. He has tremendous spatial awareness, ball skills and knows how to use leverage to win at the point of attack. He does the small things when the ball is in the air. I noticed him multiple times shifting his body weight towards the defender and then quickly flipping his hips to create space to make difficult catches in traffic. He is a good route runner and can run any route on the tree. He has consistent hands. He makes the routine catches look smooth and effortless and finds ways to adjust to the flight path of the ball to win in tight coverage.
He doesn’t profile to be a game breaking player. He is the type of guy who you stick out wide and can rely on every single play to bring the coaching staff exactly what they ask for. A reason he isn’t the type of player that can be used to take the top off of defenses is because he is not a big field speed guy. He shouldn’t have any concerns in the NFL to consistently win at getting separation because of his smooth route running, releases and body control, but he doesn’t have the game speed to just out run defenders like some other players in the draft, a la Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle. Bateman’s lack of burning speed shouldn’t be a problem, but it may lead him to be drafted later in the draft than he would if he had that type of speed. NFL scouts will certainly be monitoring his 40 time at his pro day closely to see exactly what type of speed he possesses.
At the next level Bateman projects to be a consistent starting outside wide receiver, but he has the versatility to move around the formation a little bit. Minnesota even used him a little bit in the screen and jet sweep game because of his spatial awareness and acceleration. He also has a solid arsenal of juke moves and quick sticks that make him difficult to tackle in the open space. Another reason he is so difficult to take down once he gets the ball in his hands is because of his aforementioned strength and physicality. He has shown the ability to drive through or stiff-arm defenders in the second level. This play making ability makes him an even more intriguing player for NFL scouts.
I am certainly not saying that Bateman projects to have the same career path as this player, but Bateman’s prospect profile and style of play reminds me so much of former Ohio State and current New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas. They aren’t the type of players to blow past defenders and make crazy highlight reel plays, but they are the guys that you can count on every play to create separation and get the yardage needed to move the chains. They are also such similar prospects coming out of college. Thomas was not a first round WR because he also didn’t profile to be a huge playmaker at the next level, and we know that NFL scouts and GMs love to take chances with players that have tremendous upside. The problem with this is that players who are nearly guaranteed to be consistent contributors fall in the draft when they certainly shouldn’t. I think that if Bateman were to fall to the right team, he could be a guy that consistently brings in 80-100 receptions per year and thrives in the short to intermediate passing game just like Thomas.
Most Likely Landing Spots:
New England Patriots:
The Patriots passing attack were in desperate need of a consistent pass catcher and chain mover last season. Bateman could certainly step in and be that guy from day one. The quarterback position is one of the biggest question marks in the entire league, but any young or struggling quarterback always loves to have a No. 1 receiver out wide that they can rely on to find openings in the zone or get open when plays break down. The Patriots drafted WR N’Keal Harry in the first round only a couple of years ago, but he has struggled to acclimate to the NFL speed of play. Bateman would take a lot of work off of Harry’s plate and could even help him to develop as he has less weight on his shoulders. If Bateman were to land in New England his fantasy outlook would be very dependent on how the quarterback situation works out. Regardless of who ends up as the starter, Bateman could find himself in a role that would bring him consistent production in PPR formats.
Las Vegas Raiders:
The Raiders have two of the most promising big-time play makers in the league in TE Darren Waller and WR Henry Ruggs III, but a reliable and well-rounded player that can keep defenses honest over the middle would create even more space for the other play makers to operate. Derek Carr has proven to be able to compete at a high level when he has good weapons out wide. We saw this when he made WRs Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper WR1s in fantasy football only a few years ago. If Carr could add Bateman to his arsenal, the Raiders offense would be one of the most balanced and potent offenses in the entire league. This is because of their threat in the run game as well with RB Josh Jacobs. If Bateman were to land in Las Vegas he would have a good opportunity to receive enough targets to be a WR 3 in fantasy. I would project him to walk in on day one and already demand a higher target share than Ruggs, but with less air yards on those targets.
This offseason the Bears are almost certainly going to lose WR Allen Robinson. Robinson has cemented himself as one of the top WRs in the league and will more likely command a large sum of money in free agency. With the absence of Robinson, the Bears will need to look to bolster their receiving core around young WRs Darrell Mooney and Anthony Miller. Bateman would make a great addition to this squad and could certainly help whoever ends up being the starting QB in Chicago. If Bateman were to land in Chicago, I think he would have a legitimate opportunity to lead the team in targets. If that were to happen he would most likely be a low-end WR 2 or WR 3. This depends on the quality of the targets, which is derived from the type of QB play the Bears end up getting next season.
Rashod Bateman projects to be a well-rounded and refined WR at the next level. He has the opportunity to provide a team with consistent and reliable output. In the 2021 NFL Draft, I project Bateman to be drafted in the back-end of round 1 or the front-end of round 2. I believe that the team who drafts him will be getting an outstanding value for where he will be picked in the draft. This could also be said for fantasy managers who could find him as an outstanding value at the end of fantasy drafts if he finds himself in a good landing spot.
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