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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: WR Rashod Bateman

  • The Draft Network
  • December 14, 2020
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Rashod Bateman projects as a starting NFL wide receiver after spending the last three seasons in the Minnesota Golden Gophers' program. Bateman offers an impressive blend of route running, ball skills, and competitive toughness into a frame that should alleviate any concerns about his projection to working on the boundary. Bateman's collegiate offense utilized him on a lot of in-breaking patterns and finding first and second throwing windows via run/pass option concepts at Minnesota, but he shouldn't be pegged as only a zone beater or "slot" target. Bateman's ability to track the football and win at the catch point flash just as much as his smooth breaks and easy acceleration off the line of scrimmage. While he's not a true burner, there should be no concerns regarding separation ability thanks to a diverse release package and effectiveness at the top of route stems in a number of ways. Bateman does a lot of the little things well, which should theoretically set him up for an early impact at the pro level. Bateman has multiple-Pro Bowl potential with effective quarterback play in the NFL.

Ideal Role: Featured receiver.

Scheme Fit: Vertical passing offense.

Film Evaluation

Written by Kyle Crabbs

Games watched: Penn State (2019), Wisconsin (2019), Purdue (2019), Auburn (2019), Michigan (2020), Illinois (2020), Iowa (2020)

Best Game Studied: Penn State (2019)

Worst Game Studied: Auburn (2019)

Hands: His catch radius is significant in a number of different areas. He really pops with his ability to pluck the ball in traffic; he's unbothered by bodies flashing in his peripheral vision and his concentration allows him to find the nose of the ball and secure the catch regardless of the chaos around him. Bateman does well to extend his hands away from his frame to protect the ball from defenders working through the body. A number of eye-popping one-handers are present on his resume, as well.

Route Running: His best work has typically come on double moves and on shallow angled patterns breaking into the middle of the field. Bateman has proven sufficient to all three levels at the college level, and thanks to his ability to sell false breaks, his double moves should set him up for similar successes working vertically at the pro level despite not having a dynamic athletic profile versus some contemporaries. The ability to set up throwing windows is a big part of Bateman's game—it's hard not to appreciate how his route stems open up defenders to create added space to win where he wants to go.

Ball Skills: Bateman consistently finds himself greeting the football at preferable angles and body positioning, he's quite successful in quick reaction and hand-eye coordination to adjust to timing throws—even if they're not right on the money. He's won plenty of times vertically while tracking over the shoulder and you can appreciate how well Bateman assesses his body positioning along the boundary if throws carry him to the sideline. Bateman has gone vertical and his timing in such instances, especially in the red zone, showcases an understanding of the flight of the football and how to meet the ball at its highest point.

Versatility: Bateman isn't necessarily a receiver that is going to find a lot of manufactured touches as a pass-catcher, nor a player who will likely command any return duties as an NFL player. That's plenty fine when you consider Bateman's versatility is better showcased as an inside/outside threat at the receiver position—he's got plenty of experience working in the slot and has claimed wins in both alignments. With that in mind, teams who like to move their receivers around and run certain routes from various personnel packages and alignments will like what he has to offer here.

Run After Catch Ability: There's no question Bateman is a tough one to tackle in space. He's not the most explosive, he's not the most agile and he's not the most physical, but he does offer a fair amount of all three. With those dynamics added up, plus an impressive attitude with the football in his hands, Bateman has had success creating after the catch. He's most lethal when he can take passes in stride and stress initial pursuit angles to the catch point; he's shown a good feel for angling his frame away from those challenges. He's willing to drop the shoulder and run through someone if necessary as well.

Competitive Toughness: Bateman isn't necessarily a "loud" personality, but he offers plenty of swagger and confidence on the field of play. He offers that kind of aura and presence you'd expect a top-flight receiving prospect to have. It is easy to appreciate his effort and attention to detail; he plays in an offense that rewards his dirty work with fakes and double moves to get over the top and complement his efforts in the screen game—which has bred good habits when he's not a primary target in the progression. Bateman has plenty of functional strength to play through contact; he's not a power forward playing the position but you don't get the impression he's going to get pushed around, either.

Football IQ: Bateman has found ample success as a pure route-runner. His instincts and ability to "just play" allow him to make snap judgments in scramble drill and find secondary windows if the timing of plays are derailed by pressure. The sideline awareness Bateman has illustrated will make him a popular target in tight windows; he's shown the ability to secure those throws and get his feet in play.

Release Package: Against soft coverage, Bateman really pushes the issue and sells his routes vertically to create early space and cushion. When forced to work through a defender inside the contact window, Bateman has successfully forced false steps with a lateral step or stutter release to force a defender to either bail and give space or throw a punch too early, in which case Bateman finds success in working through the punch.

Short Area Agility: Bateman is definitely more impactful on shallow angles, where he can roll his momentum through turns and continue his acceleration away from defenders in trail coverage if facing man-to-man. When he must sit down hard on hitches, Bateman offers sufficient footwork and shows the ability to drop his hips and gear down to provide pitch and catch scenarios with on-time passes. The ability to win at the line of scrimmage is aided by above-average lateral quickness, but Bateman's footwork certainly aids his successes there more than pure athleticism.

Blocking Ability: There's definitely a little bit of "dog" to him. NFL teams should not be shy at the prospect of running perimeter runs to his side of the field, nor have any hesitation about running him down into the box to crack on a safety in the alley or get a piece of linebacker flow on the second level. Bateman's wingspan offers him some margin for error when fitting up corners on the perimeter, too.

Prospect Comparison: Justin Jefferson (2020 NFL Draft, Minnesota Vikings)

Scout Grades

TDN Consensus: 85.38 / 100

Kyle Crabbs: 85.00/100

Joe Marino: 84.50/100

Jordan Reid: 85.00/100

Drae Harris: 87.00/100

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