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Purple Prospect Portfolio: Rashod Bateman

Bateman is the formula to be among NFL reception leaders year in and year out

NCAA Football: Penn State at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Rashod Bateman is a 6-foot-1, 210 pound receiver from the University of Minnesota. He was a four-star recruit in the class of 2018 and the 27th rated receiver in the 2018 class.

Bateman set Minnesota freshman receiving records for both yards (704) and receptions (51). His sophomore season was arguably the greatest receiving season in Minnesota history, where Bateman compiled 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns (tied for the most in Minnesota history), en route to being named the Big Ten’s Richter-Howard receiver of the year and selected as an AP Third-Team All-American.

The Georgia native originally opted out of the 2020 season then was granted reinstatement and played in five games after a Big Ten schedule was announced. Bateman recorded over 100 receiving yards in three of the five games.

Games watched: 2019 Purdue, 2019 Fresno St., 2019 Wisconsin, 2019 Penn St., 2020 Maryland, 2020 Iowa.

Pass game —

The 21 year-old is one of the most polished route runners entering the draft in recent memory. Double moves are effortless and smooth with strategy. He will run sluggo or poco the exact same way he runs slants or posts before propelling in double moves. Tape shows a variation of releases against press and off coverage that allow him to get erase his opponent’s leverage.

Bateman threatens vertically to break laterally and vice versa. Consistently attacking cornerback’s toes, once they open up he breaks off any route in any direction. Will string together combinations of fluid breaks with outstanding pace variation to lull defenders to sleep before accelerating.

He spent 2019 primarily split out wide with ample iso work. In 2020 he was moved into a slot heavy role that featured a large share of RPO slants. Bateman isn’t a burner, but he has enough speed to threaten deep and can reel off long gains after the catch if he catches a seam. Showing a knack for making defenders miss immediately after the catch, he can get a little too cute dancing after the catch at times. He’s best when he gets downhill after the catch and uses his long legs to glide across the field and look for lanes. Bateman works well over the middle of the field and uses his body to shield the ball from defenders on a weekly basis.

He can go up and get the ball, but I wouldn’t call him a dominant contested catch receiver. Bateman possesses a large catch radius and plucks plenty of balls away from his frame. Spatial awareness and timing are strengths, which show up when working through zone coverage. Time and time again, Bateman will throttle down and sit in soft spots after passing linebackers in their hook/curl zones. He’s always ready for the ball.

The only issue with Bateman is his stance. He’s long legged, which he accentuates in his stance, resulting in a majority of his releases starting off with a false step. When the step occurs, you can see approximately where his stance should be. Whenever his stance is tighter, there’s no false step. Physical corners at the NFL level will be able to jam Bateman at the line if he doesn’t fix it, but it’s an easy fix.

Prone to timing drops if the ball is off target a bit, but nothing egregious in six games scouted. Will catch the ball with his frame at times instead of with his hands, but usually in traffic and trying to shield the ball. Haven’t seen “hearing footsteps” drops. Tons of catches outside his frame and tracks the ball quite well, including some acrobatic grabs.

Run game —

As a blocker, Bateman has some impressive reps when runs reach the second level and he locks up cornerbacks, but he’s nothing to write home about effort wise. Would love to see more intensity and effort, but they’re not an issue.

Summary —

Bateman projects as an extremely high floor X receiver who should find success at all three levels while dominating the intermediate area of the field. The nuance in his routes and understanding of how to get corners where he wants them should pay dividends as soon as he steps foot on an NFL field. He checks every box and should be an 80+ reception receiver by his second season, if not his rookie year. It’s hard to imagine an offense where he wouldn’t work. One of the most NFL ready prospects I’ve seen so far.

Grade: Round 1

One sentence: “Rare size/separation combination and route IQ at 21 years-old.”

Scheme fit: Any scheme that has passing plays.