Following the lead of one Caleb Farley, Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman has announced his intention to sit out the 2020 college football season and head straight to the 2021 NFL Draft due to concerns about his health and safety. Bateman will be a tough loss for the Badgers, but after the numbers he put up in 2019, he's well-placed to be a high draft pick in the 2021 draft.
Here's everything you need to know about Bateman's game.
Rashod Bateman NFL
Bateman has been a prolific receiver ever since setting foot on Minnesota's campus. His freshman year, Bateman caught 51 passes for 704 yards and six TDs. That's a great statline for a freshman, and he exploded in 2019. He caught 60 passes but upped his yardage total to 1,219 and caught 11 touchdowns. To only catch nine more passes but add on 500 yards and five touchdowns is remarkable. It shows a great evolution in his game, and a jump that NFL teams will be taking a very close look at as next April approaches.
Bateman is a pretty big wideout at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds. While there's no official 40-yard-dash time on record, his game speed is excellent for his size. He's not an otherworldly athlete, but fast enough to stretch the field with the frame to win jump balls against safeties and corners, most of whom will be much smaller than him even at the professional level. Bateman scorched defenses from both the slot and out wide, averaging 20 yards per reception in 2019. He's a quality route-runner who still has room to get better on intermediate and deep routes, but will make his money early in the NFL with his excellent feel for slant routes.
Despite his physical attributes, Bateman doesn't have a knack for breaking the one tackle after a catch that could open up a lot of YAC for him. He also feasted on zone coverage but didn't always stand out when the defense played press coverage, which will be the biggest thing for Bateman to work on once he ends up in the NFL. His positional versatility as either a super-sized slot receiver or a threat outside the hashmarks will help offset that weakness from the get-go, but to become a great receiver in the league, Bateman has to learn how to beat his man one-on-one with consistency.
Nonetheless, Bateman clearly has a feel for getting open and was the best wideout in the Big Ten last season despite only one year of experience heading into the season. As long as he doesn't end up on a team where he's expected to become the top option immediately, Bateman should have a productive rookie year and go from there.
Rashod Bateman Stats
In two years at Minnesota, Bateman totaled 1,923 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Rashod Bateman Draft
Bateman won't last past the second round. Whether he goes in the first depends on who (if anyone) shines during the 2020 season and, as always, who ends up where in terms of the selection order. As it stands, he feels like a high-ceiling prospect.