Rashod Bateman was a 4 star recruit out of Tift County High School in Tifton, Georgia. As a senior he broke the school receiving record with 83 catches, 1,539 yards, and 21 touchdowns. He was first team all state along with other accolades in football and basketball, and in 2018 he committed to Minnesota.
As a freshman, Bateman played in all 13 games and caught at least one pass in each of those games. He broke two freshman records: one for catches (56), and the other for receiving yards (704). He was also one touchdown shy of the freshman record for touchdowns. During his sophomore season he tallied up 60 receptions, 1,219 yards, and 11 touchdowns, and he started to turn heads with his prolific route running and physicality. Bateman finished his sophomore season as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and was named to the All-Big Ten First Team.
With Tyler Johnson’s departure, Bateman will enter his junior year as the team’s true WR1. This will likely be his final season at Minnesota, as well as the season that determines his draft position. However, we can look at the film from his first two years to predict his anticipated draft capital.
In this play, Bateman shows great hands and concentration. He runs a go route and beats the corner deep, making an incredible one-handed catch. Even though he sees how close the safety is, he still sticks his arm out to make a play on the ball. He has just enough speed to avoid a collision and pulls the ball down as he goes into the endzone.
In this play, Bateman shows how he highpoints the ball well and excels in these contested catch opportunities. He also keeps both feet in bounds and falls forward, showing great awareness and balance after the catch.
Bateman displays some great route running here. About 10 yards into his route he puts a slight move on the corner, then passes by and moves towards the middle of the field. He gets about 5 yards of separation prior to the catch and accelerates into the endzone.
Here, Bateman is lined up on the far side of the field. He starts off with a great release, then fakes cutting into the middle of the field and accelerates forward. The corner took the bait and went inside, creating about 5 yards of separation. Bateman makes a nice over the shoulder catch as he coasts into the endzone.
Bateman lines up in the slot and runs a simple slant route. He’s got a great release off the line and makes the easy, open catch. After the catch, he breaks a tackle and accelerates into the endzone.
This is my favorite Bateman play because you can see why he is going to be special. He beats the corner who was pressing him, displays fantastic body control to adjust to the catch, then lands with a foot in-bounds to get the touchdown. Not many wide receivers can come down with this ball and score, but Bateman did this routinely.
Just like Ja’Marr Chase, Rashod Bateman has everything you could want in a wide receiver. He has great hands, doesn’t drop many passes, and can consistently beat defenders on deep routes. Bateman can also put on a clinic with back-shoulder fades in the end zone or sideline toe-dragging catches. He has the ideal size for NFL wide receivers, standing at 6’2” and 210 pounds. He runs hard after the catch and can be very physical, making it hard for defenders to bring him down. One of his best traits, however, is his route running. Bateman runs such clean and crisp routes and creates so much separation that he makes it look easy. It was hard to choose which clips to use above because, in many of them, Bateman is so wide open.
It’s tough to pick out a weakness with Bateman. He isn't the fastest receiver on the field, but he can still beat defenders deep and create early separation on shorter routes. He could work on his blocking and expanding his route tree, but otherwise he doesn't have many flaws. He’s currently one of the best wide receivers in the nation and is basically equal in talent and skill to Ja’Marr Chase. With Tyler Johnson in the pros, Bateman should see more targets this year and should test well if there is a combine next year. Bateman should be a lock as a first round pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Bateman should be an early first round pick in dynasty drafts and top 7 in superflex drafts. He should be the first or second rookie wide receiver off the board in redraft leagues depending on his location. Bateman has a lot to offer and has all the tools to be an NFL WR1. NFL teams that would benefit from drafting Bateman are Green Bay, Chicago, NY Giants, and Houston.