For better or for worse, NFL draft prospects are often shoe-horned into a playstyle. Many prospects have one distinguishable characteristic, and that becomes their calling card for their career. Many players are typecast and spend their entire career in a specific role.
Don’t fall into that trap with Rashod Bateman.
Rashod Bateman Scouting Report
Route Running and Separation:
Bateman may not be Davante Adams, Calvin Ridley, or Stefon Diggs, but he has a solid package of releases, and he is a smooth route-runner. He will be able to separate in the NFL and be a consistent open target for his quarterback. Is his route running elite? No, but Bateman can get off the line well and separate at key moments in the route.
Bateman is one of the better route runners in the class, and he should be a plus-caliber route runner from Day 1 in the NFL. Bateman breaks smoothly, and he can beat press coverage. At Minnesota, he played a significant chunk of his snaps in the slot, but his route-running savvy should translate to playing as a boundary wide receiver in the NFL.
Standing at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Bateman is not the most physically imposing receiver, but he plays much more physically than the numbers might suggest. He consistently wins at the catch point, and he tracks the ball well. While he is not a track star like Jaylen Waddle, he can move with the ball in his hands. As mentioned earlier, he was a primary slot option for the Golden Gophers, but he has the ball skills to win on the perimeter in the NFL.
Bateman profiles as a prototypical X-receiver with his size and ball skills. He could add a few pounds as he adjusts to the NFL, and he could be a borderline-dominant option down the line for whichever team selects Bateman during the NFL draft.
Rashod Bateman Scouting Report Concerns
Will Bateman be able to survive on the outside?
Yes. At Minnesota, he was used to facilitate the offense. For Minnesota, that meant he was primarily put in the slot. Don’t let the role he played at Minnesota dictate his NFL projection. For example, Justin Jefferson was heavily used in the slot at LSU, and his transition to NFL boundary wide receiver went to the tune of 1,400 receiving yards (a rookie record) and one of the strongest Offensive Rookie of the Year campaigns ever. Is Bateman the same as Jefferson? Not necessarily, but there is a path for a talented slot wide receiver to translate to being a dominant boundary wide receiver in the NFL.
He is wide receiver No.4 in this class. Yikes.
Yep, he is. Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, and the aforementioned Waddle are generally considered better prospects. However, that is OK. Pre-draft rankings are not guaranteed (as seen with Jefferson in 2020). Bateman has a shot to be the best wide receiver in the class. He has the tools to be a consistent Pro Bowl receiver, and he could be a 1,000-yard receiver in Year 1 with the right team. He has All-Pro potential moving forward, and the team that drafts Bateman will be getting a potential star.
Final Evaluation: Mid-1st Round
Bateman should be drafted in the middle of the first round, but he could slip to the end of the first round or the top of the second round based on the value of quarterback, offensive tackle, and EDGE. While Bateman is the No.4 receiver in the class, the likes of Rondale Moore, Elijah Moore, or Terrace Marshall Jr. could be drafted over Bateman, Bateman is the favorite to be the fourth receiver off the board on April 29.
Bateman could go as high as No.11, or he could slip into the second round. Several teams could trade up for his services including Washington (No.19), Baltimore (No.27), or Green Bay (No.29). It will be interesting to see where the Golden Gopher lands on draft day.
Bateman fits every criterion imaginable for a go-to NFL wide receiver. He may not have any “A+” traits, but he has enough “B’s” for a hive.
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