We continue our Prospect Focus series with one of the best wide receiver prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, who has a dwindling chance to drop to 27th overall, and right into the laps of the Ravens.
Rashod Bateman – X-WR – Minnesota Gophers
- 6’1″ (+)
- 210 pounds
- Wingspan updated April 1st
- Hands updated April 1st
- Arms updated April 1st
2020 Stats: 36 receptions for 472 yards and two TDs in five games.
This is another scenario where the statistics can be misleading. Rashod Bateman only played in five games, but had a 2019 season which saw him put up over 1,200 yards with 11 scores on just 60 targets. He’s one of the most all-around polished prospects in the Draft.
While he doesn’t shine in any one area like any of the ‘Big Three’ receivers, he does offer an extremely good blend of route-running, hands, and a tough playstyle which will lend itself as a plus in the rough-and-tumble AFC North.
Bateman has some reps where he makes absolutely insane catches, contorting his body and making a circus catch over a defender, regardless of the defender’s positioning. HIs ability to control himself in mid-air leads to adjustments and receptions on otherwise uncatchable balls. He tends to use his hands to catch the ball away from his frame and the defender.
His releases are among the best-in-class, as he shows plus skills with both his feet and hands. He prefers to lose the corner at the LoS rather than during his routes, though he has shown that he can do both with his route-running ability.
Speaking of his routes, they are also top-of-the-line when compared to the other prospects. He has a fine understanding of how to use his breaks and the boundary to his advantage. Route separation is something that the Ravens have been missing with their drafted wideouts, and Bateman changes that immediately.
His speed is good-not-great, but he doesn’t need to be a burner in order to win in terms of separation. His game speed is better than what his Pro Day will likely show, and he has enough speed to win on deeper routes and straight-line targets.
He’s been used in RPO situations a decent amount, and has shown himself with the ability to work his way through traffic, make the tough catch, and then show plus yards-after movement. He has some 2019 and 2020 reps where he’s broken a tackle and tacked on another seven yards on the route.
Overall, he shows proficiency in both man and zone situations, and while he had some increased usage in the slot in 2020, my projection of him as an outside receiver hasn’t changed. You can move him around for matchup advantages, but he’s the boundary possession receiver that can change the face of the Ravens passing game.
Bateman did have some drop issues show up in 2020, but the greater majority of his tape, he’s shown solid hands. 11% is a bit of an eye-raiser, but the type of drops are important. They’re far and few between of the concentration type.
As previously mentioned, his speed is just okay. I’m not sure that he has the vaunted ‘second gear’ and he shouldn’t be viewed as a burner. He’ll lose some reps to faster corners if he can’t separate through his routes.
Also, I’d say he ranks in the bottom half of the class as far as blocking, which will be a detriment to the Ravens offense. He has functional play strength, but he doesn’t use it when being asked to lay the wood in the run game. He looks disinterested at worst, and teachable at best.
If it was a perfect world, the Ravens would land Devonta Smith, he would gain about 25 pounds, and the Ravens would have their WR1.
But it isn’t a perfect world, but Rashod Bateman is a perfect consolation prize. He has everything that the Ravens have claimed to want (but passed up time and time again) in their wide receivers. He would be an immediate difference-maker for Lamar Jackson, and would be a star in the league by Year Two.
Additionally, he would take the attention off of Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews – not to mention he’d make the tough catch that Andrews tends to drop in big games. This would open up the deep game with Brown and newly-acquired Sammy Watkins, while minimizing the loss of toughness that went to Las Vegas with Willie Snead.
Bateman is as close to being a first-round lock as you can be without being a Top 10 prospect, and it’s about a 50/50 shot whether he’s there at 27. There are very few prospects that I condone trading up to 20ish for, but he’s one of them.
If Bateman is there at 27, and the Ravens don’t take him, I’m not saying I condone burning down The Castle, but there should definitely be dissension in the ranks.
If the Ravens want to stop missing on wideouts (including all six they’ve taken recently) then Bateman is the..
..wait for it..
Yeah, we’re done here.