NAME: Rashod Bateman
POSITION: Wide Receiver
WEIGHT: 210 pounds
A native of Tifton, Georgia, Rashod Bateman played high school football at Tift County High School. He had already committed to the University of Minnesota after his junior season of high school. A terrific senior season led to a late surge of recruiting interest from many top flight college programs. However, Bateman chose to stick with Minnesota. That senior season saw the receiver break many single season school receiving records at his high school. Namely, this included catches (83), yards (1,539) and touchdowns (21). Bateman was named first team All-State that season and was rated as a four-star recruit.
Immediately, Bateman made an impact with the Golden Gophers. Starting every game as a true freshman, he logged school freshman records in receptions (51) and receiving yards (704). His 2019 sophomore season was even better and officially put him on the map. Bateman brought home numerous accolades or awards following his second season. Mainly, he was named Team MVP with the Bronko Nagurski Award. To boot, Bateman was named first team All-Big Ten, third team AP All-America, Big Ten’s Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year and a Biletnikoff Award Finalist in 2019 as well. He originally opted out of the 2020 season in early August, citing personal health concerns surrounding COVID-19. Though, Bateman reversed his decision and returned to Minnesota, once the Big Ten announced their season was a go. He was named third team All-Big Ten for 2020.
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Bateman is so smooth as a route runner. Minnesota ran a good deal of RPO action, which allowed him to show off his quick twitch on the top of routes. He also does a good job of not having any wasted movements. Getting to the area needed in the opening throwing window, Bateman is focused on moving upfield instantly after making the catch. He showed that he can fake out opposing defenders with ease. Whether it be with head fakes or sufficient start to stop prowess to sit in the throwing window, Bateman creates separation by this most often. Furthermore, he has a keen knack for putting his foot in the dirt on in-breaking routes in order to create a larger throwing window.
Coaches will appreciate his ability to attack passes. Not only does he attack with force with the ball in his hands, you see Bateman battle significantly for any catchable pass. He fights through contact well with the ball in hand, which hides a few of his minor weaknesses. Meanwhile, Bateman instills confidence in the quarterback with the way he high points the football. In contested catch situations one on one, the receiver winds up making the most difficult catches. As a result, passers throwing his way should feel immense trust in him when going up against some of the more aggressive defensive backs at the catch point. Finally, Bateman is not extremely deceptive when running in the open field. He has created chunk plays by being patient and waiting out the would be tackler, though.
Piggybacking off of the last sentence above, Bateman is savvy and calm when there is chaos around him. This is true both before he secures the catch and afterwards with the ball in hand. His focus on gaining as many yards as possible or taking it to the house on every play leads to quarterbacks being more reliant upon him. They may not have the easiest throw at their disposal. Nonetheless, Bateman makes outworking defenders look simple. More impressively, Bateman is intelligent when taking away defenders’ angles. They think they have him beat. But, he shields the ball and his body away from major collisions fairly well. During his career at Minnesota, Bateman also averaged 16.3 yards per reception. His lowest mark for a single season was still a healthy mark at 13.1.
Above all, Bateman is not a burner. He will rarely outrun opponents. Any kind of separation he creates is usually due to the aforementioned well developed route running or fakes. But still, you would like to see him create more wide open looks in a way that has added naturalness than what is there right now. In addition to a lack of speed, his agility and footwork can fault him at times. Bateman is more average in those regards than he is elite at the moment. Thus, potential explosive plays can be halted if he is caught from behind. This often occurs before he can get any sort of acceleration going.
On one hand, Bateman has a wide array of releases that he brings to the table. One big question is, can he beat press man coverage at the line of scrimmage more easily? We already discussed how there is a lot to be desired regarding Bateman creating more separation for himself. Too frequently, he relies on his feet or added fakes to get around his man. This not only creates added contested catch situations for Bateman. But also, it results in plays or opportunities taking too long to develop down the field. Coaching and finding a main set of a couple of different releases from the line of scrimmage will help him substantially in the NFL.
A good chunk of Bateman’s physical prowess shows up at the right time. In plays where he needs to outmuscle a man by high pointing the ball, he produces positive results. Bateman is not shy about laying a shoulder into an opponent either. The issue here again goes to the jump of the snap. Coming off of the line of scrimmage, Bateman will need to craft a greater sense of hand fighting and use his length and catch radius to his advantage more rapidly.
If Rashod Bateman were to be selected by the Kansas City Chiefs, he would be a natural fit. Like Tyreek Hill or Mecole Hardman, he can line up both out wide or in the slot. Patrick Mahomes would not have to worry at all when throwing the ball his way. He tracks the ball well, finds open looks, despite not being the most athletic. And, Kansas City could use another weapon who can best opponents in a variety of ways. Moreover, Bateman has the smarts and awareness to focus on making the smart play, rather than the flashier play. He will not hesitate in attempting to make every reception a possible touchdown as well. With Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson potentially moving on, the Chiefs could add Bateman to be a highly productive and reliable pass catcher.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs draft prospect profiles throughout the winter and spring. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.