Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman is rarely mentioned when the top pass-catchers in the 2021 NFL draft are discussed. Instead, the conversation centers around LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith.
It’s time for that to change.
Bateman’s 2019 season was a display of big-play potential when he totaled 60 catches, 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 20.3 yards per catch set the table for a monster 2020 season until COVID-19 initially led to Bateman opting out. Once the Big Ten announced games were back on, Bateman jumped back in but wasn’t nearly as effective. He finished the truncated 2020 season with 36 catches for 472 yards and two touchdowns in five games.
It’s that last-in-mind, first-in-memory impression that has draft analysts forgetting just how good Bateman is. His on-field style of play reminds me a lot of Chargers superstar Keenan Allen; he has a similar body-type — Bateman is 6-1, 210; Allen is 6-2, 206 — and his route-running and after-the-catch movement skills are quite comparable.
But there’s one area of Bateman’s game where he might have an edge over Allen: speed.
According to Bateman’s Twitter account, the former Golden Gopher registered a blazing 4.38 (4.37 hand, 4.39 laser) 40-time in his pre-draft training. Compare that time to Allen’s 4.71 when he was a prospect, and Bateman is clearly superior.
Per Source: Bateman ran a 4.37 hand time and a 4.39 laser at the Exos combine.
*Rashod Bateman is not slow 😎
— Rashod Bateman (@R_bateman2) February 27, 2021
Before we get overly excited about this tweet, remember: NFL teams won’t have the benefit of uniform 40 times from the NFL Combine. Instead, they’ll rely on pro days, which have traditionally produced faster (and less accurate) athletic performances.
Still, even if we add an ‘honesty’ tax to Bateman’s training time, he likely still checks in as a mid-to-high 4.4’s guy, which is exceptional for a player with his natural ability.
Bateman has a chance to be the second wide receiver drafted this year, and even if he isn’t, his pre-draft rise could push him to the third guy from the position group to get picked and a potential top-15 pick.