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Ravens believe Rashod Bateman will make a “big jump” in Year 2

The team is expecting significant contributions from their 2021 top pick after he showed promise as a rookie.

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Most NFL players don’t hit the ground running as rookies and many even take some more time than others to develop, classifying them as “late bloomers.” However, history has shown that the vast majority of players make the most significant strides in their development from their first to second season.

The Baltimore Ravens have been a shining case study in recent memory with quarterback Lamar Jackson and tight end Mark Andrews, who both broke out and became Pro Bowlers in their second seasons after displaying great promise as rookies.

The team is hoping that history will repeat itself in 2022 with a similar ascension of wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who they selected No. 27 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. While addressing the media at the NFL combine on Wednesday, Ravens’ General Manager Eric DeCosta expressed as such at the podium.

“We think he’s going to make a big, big jump this year in his second year, and we’re very excited for his future,” DeCosta said.

The former Golden Gopher turned avian had his NFL debut delayed due to a groin injury that caused him to miss most of training camp, the entire preseason, and the first five games of the regular season. Once he got healthy, Bateman didn’t waste any time establishing himself a reliable and explosive option in the passing game albeit on inconsistent targets from half to half to start.

DeCosta believes that the team’s top rookie selection from a year ago made progress and improved as the season went along and gained more experience.

“The thing I’ve been impressed [about] with Rashod [is] his route running, [he has] very, very good hands and his attitude this year,” DeCosta said. “His ability day-in and day-out to compete, to learn the offense, to challenge the defensive backs every single day, and he made plays when he had the chance.”

For the first time in what feels like millennia, the wide receiver position isn’t in dire need of reinforcements or a complete overhaul for the Ravens heading into the offseason. This is thanks in large part due to the number of swings that DeCosta and Co. have taken fairly high in the draft during his tenure as lead executive.

The Ravens have double-dipped at receiver in each of the last three years with at least one selection coming on one of the first two days of the draft. In 12 games, Bateman made four starts, was targeted 68 times, caught 46 passes for 515 receiving yards and a touchdown.

They had a pair of pass-catchers reach and eclipse 1,000 yards receiving this past season in Andrews and Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, who both set career highs. Another dynamic weapon at Jackson’s disposal with confidence and a dozen games of experience under his belt would make the offense even more dangerous for the opposition each week this fall, winter and next January.