NFL Draft Opt-Out Tracker: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Height:6’1″
Weight:210 lbs
DOB: 11/29/1999
Year: Redshirt Junior
High School: Tift County (Tifton, Georgia)
Rashod Bateman Specs

On Monday, August 4th, Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman announced that he would opt-out of the 2020 college football season to focus his training on the 2021 NFL Draft. In a stunningly-well cut video released on his official twitter account, Bateman expressed how difficult a decision this was for him, and went through a minute-and-a-half of thank yous to all of the people who had supported him and helped him along the way. What a way for Bateman to go out on a good note.

Last season, Bateman was a 3rd-team All-American, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, and 1st-Team All-Big Ten as a redshirt sophomore while paired with the future fifth-round pick receiver Tyler Johnson. It’s easy to presume that Bateman will be selected before then. He is an accomplished and productive receiver already.

Bateman is ranked on The Draft Networks boards as the 27th overall prospect in the draft, and 4th best receiver. TDN’s Director of Scouting, Kyle Crabbs, really likes his run-after-the-catch ability but does worry about his role in the NFL due to his unique size. “Bateman,” Crabbs explained, “for all of his plus skills attacking the ball in the air, does not possess the ideal size to act as a pure possession receiver and doesn’t necessarily showcase dominant strength at the line of scrimmage or at the top of his routes.”

Scouting Report: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Rashod Bateman, however, is already a favorite in the Twitter Draft circles. Bateman’s big-play ability comes from the nifty route-running that he can use to smoke defenders. His after the catch ability makes him one hell of an intriguing prospect.

Bateman’s size does play a factor into what kind of a role he will have in the NFL, and other NFL teams picking receivers in this class before him. Potentially, teams could prefer taking receivers like Tamorrion Terry, Justyn Ross, Terrace Marshall, or Sage Surratt over the build of Bateman.

Speed/Athleticism

Rashod Bateman isn’t a top-level athlete. I think his testing will be about average. As long as he runs over a 4.59 forty-yard dash, there won’t be too many concerns about his speed. It is clear on tape, however, that he doesn’t have the best body control in the class.

Granted, that paragraph isn’t meant to detract from the ability Bateman has. He’s shown flashes of incredible body control along the sideline to make catches inbounds, as well as the ability to make every bit of his speed count on the field.

When matched up against more athletic, longer cornerbacks, Bateman struggled a good bit to create the separation needed and was more of a non-factor in those games. That is something that NFL teams will monitor and study hard to understand.

Release/Route-Running

Bateman is a slick route runner. Although he doesn’t possess top-end athleticism and body control, he makes things work with consistency and subtle movements that allow him to dominate throughout the route.

Bateman’s release is generally good. He has a couple of moves that he can use to win off of the bat, but his understanding of the defensive back he is going up against allows him to win from the start. He has a strong understanding of how cornerbacks play their coverages. His footwork is great while on breaks but could use some improvement while changing directions.

Minnesota Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman grabs a quarterback Tanner Morgan (2) pass for a first down in the fourth quarter of an NCAA Football game at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. Minnesota beat Georgia Southern, 35-32. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Bateman’s bread and butter is the slant route. It’s something that he has just about perfected, and runs with such ease and grace. He handles the nuances of the route very well and has even built onto it with a pretty slick slant-and-go (otherwise known as the Sluggo).

I had previously reported that he needed to work on expanding his route tree. While this is partially true, access to more tape from other games (I now have seen almost every Minnesota game from last season) has allowed me to further understand the Minnesota scheme. Minnesota ran a lot of simple play designs. However, they used simple routes early in games and then expanded on them as the game progressed. This throws defensive backs off who read the play and react to something that they saw earlier or in a previous game on tape, and a new result emerges.

Bateman has an excellent understanding of how to work through coverage with his routes and shows a good ability to learn nuances to routes quickly. I’m personally not concerned with his route-running, rather, I think it’s a strength of his game.

Catch Ability

Bateman has very tangible and reliable hands. His ability to corral the football is pretty extraordinary. You see him snag balls off of his favorite route, the slant, with ease and then you see the extraordinary catch ability demonstrated again and again.

Enough said, right?

The only thing that I have to note about Bateman’s catch ability is the fact that he’s not nearly as effective when he goes airborne for footballs. He’s much better catching on the move, and doesn’t put a lot of effort generally into going very high to snag a ball.

Field Vision/Contact Balance

The real threat that Bateman brings to the field is his ability after the catch. He’s an excellent runner after the catch with the ball in his hands. We really saw this on display against Auburn, where he was used behind the line of scrimmage as a way to scheme him against the speedy cover cornerbacks of the south.

His field vision certainly is a strength to his game, as a former NFL wide receiver, Ron Johnson, points out in the tweet below. This is a natural feel for the game that is incredibly rare in athletes. Bateman has that.

I think it’s important to point out that Bateman’s after the catch ability allows you to scheme him into your offense without any real difficulty. If his down the field threat is taken away by a superior cover cornerback, you can scheme him touches underneath to open his downfield ability.

Blocking Ability

Minnesota didn’t often run his way, so it’s hard to examine his ability as a blocker. From what I could tell, he can block people when he wants to, but oftentimes lacks the motivation to really do well and hasn’t focused on the proper technique.

Leadership/Personality

Rashod Bateman is a very respectable young man. As far as I know, there are no off-of-the-field questions surrounding him. He’s handled himself with grace and received rave reviews from the Minnesota coaching staff. I don’t believe any NFL teams have any concerns surrounding him.

Overall

Rashod Bateman is one of the more exciting prospects that have come out in recent years. I mentioned in my post about scouting wide receivers a few weeks back that there are three main things that I focus on, and everything else is extra. I think that if you have a good release, good footwork, and good catch ability, you will be successful in the NFL.

Bateman’s release is good, although it can be better. I think he can be more consistent, but he’s got a good release. His footwork could be better but, again, it’s good and he can win with it. His catch ability is great. I think I remember seeing him drop one pass in all of his targets that I watched. He catches from all different angles.

Because of that, Bateman has the ceiling to be a great receiver. His after the catch ability can make him a dangerous weapon on the field, and no doubt that an NFL team would be excited to have him. I don’t think he will be a star immediately, but he can easily grow into the role of one.

Grade: Low Impact