Temper your expectations for Ravens WR Rashod Bateman

Rashod Bateman's expectations are high, but for a variety of reasons, Baltimore Ravens fans should temper them just a bit in his return.

In Week 4, the Baltimore Ravens will be on the road for the third time in four weeks to start the 2021 NFL season. Unlike their previous three games, however, the Ravens may finally have the services of first-round receiver Rashod Bateman when they travel to Denver to face the 3-0 Broncos.

Despite lofty expectations for the former Minnesota Golden Gopher, there’s reason to believe we should temper the anticipation around Bateman’s return.

Rashod Bateman activated from Ravens’ IR

After he missed Baltimore’s first three games, the Ravens announced on Wednesday that they have activated Bateman from injured reserve. The 27th overall pick sustained a groin injury during training camp on August 10 and subsequently missed all of the preseason plus the first three weeks of the regular season.

He decided to have surgery on the injury rather than take a wait-and-see approach, citing his desire to return at 100%. In addition to Bateman’s elevation from the IR, the Ravens also activated fellow WR Miles Boykin. This gives the club some much-needed pass-catching depth.

“They’re both going to come back and practice, and we’ll see where that takes us,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said to reporters on Monday.

Bateman was Baltimore’s first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft and the first of two Day 1 selections. Their other first-rounder — edge rusher Odafe Oweh — has already made his presence known this season in a big way.

What does Rashod Bateman bring to the table?

With a rare combination of size, speed, and catch-point ability, Bateman is a complete receiver. Taken as the fifth wideout in the 2021 NFL Draft, he presents a unique challenge for defenders in coverage. Bateman’s high-point ability is second to none in the 2021 class, and his sneaky speed is hidden by his ability to separate.

Making matters even more difficult for defensive backs in coverage is Bateman’s knack for making highlight-reel catches. His college tape features multiple one-handed receptions, toe-tapping grabs, and full-extension catches at every level.

At 6’2, 210 pounds, Bateman’s reported 4.39 40-yard dash time is remarkable. He has a unique gift of speed and size in addition to his pass-catching ability.

Not so fast, my friend

Given Bateman’s proverbial “ceiling,” it’s easy to see why NFL expectations should be sky-high. But, unfortunately, there are more than enough reasons to be skeptical.

First off, his injury should not be taken lightly. It’s unclear how Bateman will be able to move after undergoing surgery. Therefore, we don’t know how long it will take for him to truly reach 100%.

Additionally, rookie receivers typically need time to adjust to the speed and pace of NFL games. Among this season’s first-round rookie receivers, only Ja’Marr Chase has hauled in multiple receiving touchdowns. Chase also leads the group with 73.3 yards per game — Jaylen Waddle is second at 55.6 yards per contest.

Combine those factors with the fact that Lamar Jackson is his quarterback, and you have a recipe for a sluggish start. Jackson just threw for the second-most passing yards of his career a week ago — and that was just 287 yards. Bateman will also have to contend for targets with Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, and Mark Andrews as he returns to Baltimore’s active roster.

It’s exciting to have Bateman back in action. But it’s also realistic to temper high expectations for such a talented player. If Bateman does shatter his ceiling when he steps on an NFL field, at least we’d be pleasantly surprised.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles