Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota
Age: 21 (11/29/1999)
Breakout Age: 17.9
College Dominator: 47.85%
Comp: Allen Robinson
Rashod Bateman initially opted out of the season due to concerns of COVID-19. He then was reinstated to play and ended up playing Week 8 when the Big Ten started their conference play. After a 2-3 start to the season for Minnesota, Bateman again decided to opt out for the rest of the year. I think it was the right call. He has proven that he is a top option at WR for the 2021 draft and there is no sense in risking injury or COVID-19 exposure.
Bateman has been on my radar since last season and I cannot wait for him to become a dynasty asset. He is my personal favorite player in the 2021 draft class. Currently, I have him as my number 2 ranked 2021 receiver, but honestly it is more of a 1A and 1B situation between him and Chase for me.
This year, it does seem like Bateman’s stock may have taken a hit. I have seen multiple people say that they aren’t as impressed with him this season or that they just like other receivers a little better. I am all in on Bateman. He is a stud and should be a great NFL receiver. He has dominated ever since he was a freshman in college with a breakout age of 17.9. I just think people focus too much on athleticism and separation. I get it is important to a degree, however, Bateman profiles to be a true number one receiver in the NFL and athleticism has proven time and time again to be overrated when it comes to success at the wide receiver position.
As a freshman at the University of Minnesota, Bateman would go on to have a very productive freshman season behind Minnesota’s then WR1, Tyler Johnson (2020 5th-round pick for Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Bateman would catch 51 passes for 704 yards and 6 touchdowns. With that production, he registered a 27.97% Dominator Rating in his freshman season.
Bateman rose to a new level for his sophomore season. While still playing behind Tyler Johnson, Bateman would still be dominant. He caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns and posted a dominator rating of 36.25%. He was dominant in so many ways. Bateman averaged 12.83 YPT (yards per target) and 3.48 YRR (yards per route run). His 3.48 YRR was tied for 8th for all receivers with at least 20 targets. The only people ahead of him were Geraud Sanders, Tutu Atwell, CeeDee Lamb, Tee Higgins, Tyler Johnson, Ja’Marr Chase, and Devonta Smith. He tied with Tylan Wallace for 8th. Some pretty elite company there.
With Tyler Johnson now in the NFL, 2020 was supposed to be all eyes on Bateman for his upcoming Junior year. Things changed quickly with COVID-19, though. He would play in 5 games before opting out again. During those 5 games, he caught 36 passes for 472 yards and 2 touchdowns. In this shortened season, he put up a Dominator Rating of 47.85%. As the true number 1 option in the offense, Bateman registered 8.43 YPT and 3.45 YRR (currently 17th overall with minimum 20 targets).
There is a lot to like about Bateman. One of my favorite aspects of his game is his ball skills. He’s shown time after time that he has the ability to go up and get a jump ball and also make impressive adjustments to the ball as well. After reviewing film, there were a lot of times where the ball was under thrown and Bateman made an amazing adjustment to ensure position to make the catch. There were also times the ball would be slightly overthrown and he showed great hands and even got some fingertip catches. He seems to be one of those alpha receivers that you can just throw the ball his way, and he will make the play. Here is a short video of some of my favorite catches which will show what I am talking about.
Bateman has also shown plenty of YAC ability and can break tackles and be shifty in the open field. It’s definitely something you want to see a receiver be able to do while transitioning to the next level. In 2019, Bateman was 63rd in yards after the catch with 367 yards, so I am not saying he is elite in this area, but he has shown flashes that he has the ability to make big plays in space. Here are a few plays that I picked out where he shows this ability. Also, check that stiff arm in the last clip!
If I had to pick a comp for Bateman, I think I would go with Allen Robinson. It was actually really hard for me to come up with a comp for Bateman, but I think this is pretty close. No two players are the same, but they are about the same size and have such great ball skills. Allen Robinson is one of the best receivers in the league, despite being underrated mainly due to poor QB play year after year. Even with that poor QB play, he finished as a WR 1 last year and is on track to repeat that this year.
Bateman is projected to be a possible late first round pick or early to mid second round pick. It is truly another stacked WR class so it does make sense if he slides a little. My hope is that he lands in a spot where he can become the true alpha receiver like I believe he can. If the Texans can some how get him, I would be thrilled. That was my dream spot, but unfortunately they don't have a 1st or 2nd round pick, so it is really unlikely. There are great teams at the end of the first who could use Bateman. It would be great to see him in GB or KC as well. KC looks to always be adding weapons to the offense, and if they let Watkins walk, they may look to add another receiver via the draft.