Rashod Bateman - WR, Minnesota
By the numbers:
6'2", 210 pounds.
60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019. All-Big Ten First Team and AP Third-Team All-America selection. Sixth in school history in receiving yards.
36 receptions for 472 yards and two touchdowns in 2020 (five games).
Bateman has a tremendous understanding of how to get open and find the ball. He isn't the most athletically gifted receiver but makes up for it in just about every other department. He's a technically sound wideout with the ability to beat defenders in a variety of ways.
At the line of scrimmage, Bateman possesses quality initial burst and gets up to speed at a good rate. His movements are efficient and he gets the most out of them by using head fakes and/or jab steps to keep cornerbacks honest either during his route or at the top of his stems. Crisp routes and very good footwork make him a potential nightmare against zone coverage.
Another major positive Bateman brings to the table is his ability to make contested catches. He high-points the ball extremely well and has terrific tracking skills. He accurately adjusts to where the ball is traveling and is consistently in a position to make plays. Bateman's aforementioned acceleration can come in handy after the catch, making him a legitimate threat either from the slot or on the boundary.
Part of the reason why Bateman is so savvy and technical is due to his lack of top-end speed. He isn't an elite athlete, which raises questions about his ability to consistently beat man coverage. If pressed at the line of scrimmage, can Bateman get going again quickly enough to recover? While the answer is yes most of the time, it's still a valid concern.
In the NFL, Bateman will need to find ways to counteract physicality. Whether that comes in the form of elite-level footwork and anticipation or a new-and-improved physical style of play remains to be seen. He has the chops to be a very productive "X" receiver, although it may take a bit of creativity on his part.
How Bateman fits with the Chiefs:
Should Sammy Watkins depart via free agency, Bateman would be a direct replacement for him. He runs great routes, is a reliable pass-catcher and always finds ways to get open. Assuming he can beat press-man coverage at the next level, he's a perfect fit in the Chiefs' offense. Even if Watkins returns, Bateman remains an intriguing option. Selecting him with Watkins still in the picture would say quite a bit about the development of Mecole Hardman, though.
It's extremely difficult to find more than one potential flaw in Bateman's game. He does nearly everything at such a high level that even in a less-than-ideal outcome, he'll be a respectable No. 2 receiver in an NFL offense. If he can answer the (somewhat) overblown questions about his ability to succeed against physical corners, he could potentially be a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver.
Bateman's intelligence, fluidity and precision in route-running and ball-tracking prowess — among other things — make him an enticing selection in the back half of the first round. He projects as a first-round pick with a slight chance he slides into round two, but him going anywhere outside of the top 40 would be a huge surprise.