Minnesota is not traditionally viewed as a factory for quality NFL Draft prospects, but head coach P.J. Fleck has done wonders for the program with his “Row the Boat” mantra. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Golden Gophers set a school record with five draft selections, the most all-time in one draft class. Rashod Bateman, the school’s star wide receiver, has the potential to not only be the first Minnesota first-round selection since 2006, but he also has a chance to be the school’s highest drafted player in the modern NFL Draft era.
Rashod Bateman NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Minnesota
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’0 3/8″
- Weight: 190 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Rashod Bateman Scouting Profile
Positives: Dominant, game-controlling receiver who made an impact for Minnesota ever since stepping onto the field as a freshman. Smooth and fluid, sells routes, and quickly gets into breaks. Comes across the middle of the field, makes the difficult catch in a crowd, and consistently extends to grab the ball away from his frame. Possesses terrific short-area quickness, keeps his focus and concentration, and stays with the action.
Adjusts to the errant throw, displays good eye/hand coordination, and nicely makes the catch in stride. On the same page as his quarterback, comes back to the ball to make himself an available target, and plays with excellent awareness. Works hard even if the play is away from him.
Negatives: Plays to one speed and never showed a second gear on the field, despite his forty time. Must do a better job finishing blocks. Comes off a somewhat disappointing 2020 season.
Analysis: Bateman burst onto the scene as a freshman and was a dominant force during his sophomore campaign of 2019. He possesses the size and skill to be a number two receiver at the next level, and Bateman will be a productive wideout in the proper system.
Rashod Bateman Player Profile
Rashod Bateman’s NFL Draft journey is not the typical “five-star prospect goes to national championship contender” story. He was a four-star recruit but was not heavily sought after by the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world.
When Bateman made his commitment to Minnesota, he did so with the intent to make an impact early, and he did. As a true freshman, Bateman caught 51 passes for 704 yards and 6 touchdowns.
He set massive expectations for his second year, where he and partner Tyler Johnson would form one of the nation’s elite pass-catching duos. After setting a high bar in his freshman year, Bateman became one of college football’s elite sophomore receivers.
Posting 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns, Bateman established himself as one of the conference’s elite weapons and arguably the best deep threat in the college ranks. Bateman displayed a blend of savvy route running, elite hands, YAC ability, complex releases sets, and a high contested catch win rate.
Bateman originally opts-out for 2020 but opts back in
Going into his third season, the hype for Bateman was at an all-time high. Then the Big Ten announced it would not be playing college football in the fall, and Bateman decided to opt-out of the 2020 season to prepare for the NFL Draft. It seemed as though a final year from Bateman would be stripped from us. That is, until the Big Ten decided to reverse course and give Bateman the chance to play one more year.
After awaiting a decision from the conference, Bateman announced that he would be eligible to play this year and change his number from 13 to 0 – a change fueled by the desire to make a statement against the racial inequality displayed across the country.
Making a change off the field, producing despite difficulties on the field
Bateman said this about his number change: “I feel like I have a platform that I was blessed with, and I can use to spread positive change. There’s zero tolerance for racism here in Minnesota. There should be zero tolerance in the United States and in the world when it comes to racism. I feel like I could use my jersey number for positive change.”
Despite an inconsistent Minnesota offense in 2020, Bateman continued to produce dominant displays when given the opportunity. With Tyler Johnson departed for the NFL, he became the go-to receiving threat. He also showcased versatility, playing out of the slot, out wide, and being involved in the backfield. In three out of five games, he racked up over 100 receiving yards.
Following the 2020 college football season, Rashod Bateman declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Rashod Bateman’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Despite the difficulties of the 2020 season, Rashod Bateman is still a first-round 2021 NFL Draft prospect. Given the perceived strength of the 2021 NFL WR class, it’s hard to predict just how high the NFL will value Bateman. However, he should be considered as the front-runner for the WR4 spot. The most likely scenario seems to be a selection somewhere between picks 15-28. Thus, teams like the Washington Football Team, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, and Green Bay Packers, could all look to Bateman to improve their receiving corps.
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