2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman

Brian Lamb
Brian Lamb is the owner of NFL Draft Lounge and has covered the NFL Draft since 2011. Brian is also the owner of the Infinity Sports Network, which NFL Draft Lounge belongs to.

There are many identifiable traits that NFL scouts look for in wide receivers. For instance, quickness and acceleration off the line of scrimmage, as well as through the stem of the route, are key. Furthermore, traits such as a large catch radius and crisp route running are extremely important. As we’ll explain in this scouting report, NFL Draft prospect Rashod Bateman possesses all of these traits, which is why he’s one of the top receivers in this class. In this report, we’ll examine Bateman’s background and collegiate career. Next, we’ll turn on the game tape and identify those key traits on film. Finally, we’ll release our scouting report and predict where Bateman will be drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft.

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Background

Coming out of Tift County High School in Tifton, Georgia, Rashod Bateman was a four-star recruiting prospect according to 247 Sports and Rivals. Both of these websites had Bateman listed as a top 75 wide receiver, too. Prior to his commitment to Minnesota, Rashod Bateman also had offers from Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas A&M. In June of 2018, Bateman officially enrolled in classes.

Bateman had an immediate impact at the University of Minnesota during his freshman season, starting all 13 games for the Gophers. Additionally, he finished with 704 receiving yards on 51 receptions, also totaling 6 touchdowns. This included a 175 yard game against Illinois, as well as two touchdowns.

In 2019, during his sophomore season, Rashod Bateman continued to impress as he caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. The most impressive stat from that season, however, was Bateman’s 20.3 yards per reception average.

Following the announcement that the Big Ten would postpone their 2020 season due to the Coronavirus, Bateman opted out of the season to prepare for the NFL Draft. However, when the Big Ten returned to play, Bateman opted back in to start five games. He finished with 36 catches for 472 yards and two touchdowns.

 

What I Like About Rashod Bateman

As with all of our scouting reports on this website, we like to embed game film that best identifies what we like in a specific prospect. Below, I’ve included three clips for Rashod Bateman. For the first clip, we go back to 2019 for the game against Purdue.

 

Catch Radius and Quickness

I wanted to include this play first for everything that is displayed on this play. Rashod Bateman accelerates off the line of scrimmage and cuts inward between the two defenders, creating the necessary separation. Out of his break, Bateman highpoint the catch and hits his second gear as he speeds off for the touchdown.

 

Quickness To Identify Soft Coverage

Working in zone coverage, Rashod Bateman quickly identifies the soft spot in coverage. Once there, he slows and looks for the ball. Once the ball is secured, Bateman accelerates upfield, dodging a couple of defenders along the way. While he isn’t able to take this one to the house, Rashod Bateman keeps his team on the field, which is all that you can ask out of a wide receiver.

 

Route Running

This play, maybe above all others that we’ve embedded into this scouting report, spotlights how great of a route runner Rashod Bateman really is. On this play, Bateman works between coverage, with the cornerback playing a few yards off. Once he plants a leg and cuts across field, the quarterback instantly has plenty of room to deliver the pass. This isn’t a sexy rep, but rushed bateman does a great job of using his body to create separation.

 

What I Dislike About Rashod Bateman

On the previous page, we looked at three clips that best identified what Rashod Bateman does well. Below, I’ve included three clips that spotlight areas in which Bateman needs to improve. For the first clip, we stay in Minnesota for the 2020 game against Iowa.

 

Catchable Balls

This pass is a bit high, but still hits Rashod Bateman’s hands. This game had a few instances where Bateman just failed to bring in the pass. However, the rest of this rep is fantastic. Bateman waits until the cornerback rotates his hips downfield before making his cut inside. Rashod Bateman was in the middle of three defenders on this play, so it likely wouldn’t have gone very far, but it was still, nonetheless, a catchable ball.

 

Effort When He’s Not The Intended Receiver

I don’t know if Rashod Bateman was the intended receiver, or if this was a one-read throw, but I noticed the effort from the Gophers receiver on this play. On the snap, Bateman explodes out of his stance, which I love, but quickly lets up. Even if he’s not the intended receiver, I still want to see him put in a full effort. I imagine that NFL decision makers do, too.

 

Downfield Blocking

Rashod Bateman finds himself as the lead blocker for the running back downfield. He’s not asked to do this on a regular basis, so it’s understandable that this wouldn’t be a perfect rep. However, it is concerning that he whiffs on the block entirely. If Bateman is asked to block at the next level, which is certainly a possibility, he must do so with better technique.

 

Rashod Bateman NFL Draft Scouting Report

 

Pros
  • Quickness and Burst
  • Route Running
  • Processing Speed To Identify Coverage

 

Cons
  • Effort Away From The Ball
  • Blocking Ability Downfield
  • Consistency In Catching Easy Passes

 

The Verdict

When it comes down to it, it’s clear that Rashod Bateman possesses all of the key traits that NFL evaluators look for in a wide receiver. Not only does Bateman possess the quickness to accelerate off the line of scrimmage, but he’s a polished route runner with the ability to finish.

I don’t know if Bateman has done enough to sneak into the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but it should be close. If he can continue to improve upon a strong foundation that he’s built, and continue to grow confidence, it’s clear that rushed Bateman will have a long-term career in the NFL. Furthermore, Bateman has very few areas where he must clean up his technique.

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