With the 2021 NFL Draft now less than a month away, we examine some of the prospects who could be of interest to the New England Patriots.
In this scouting report, we take a closer look at Rashod Bateman, a wide receiver from the University of Minnesota.
Height: 6'2" (1.88m)
Weight: 209lbs (94.8kg)
Hands: 6/10 - Bateman has been known to have sporadic cases of the "dropsies". On an otherwise strong film reel, this stands out as one of Bateman's weakest traits.
Contact Balance/Elusiveness: 7.5/10 - With a combination of quickness and solid contact balance, Bateman is able to consistently get yards after the catch.
Route Footwork Efficiency: 9.5/10 - Simply put, Bateman's routes are crispy. His ability to read leverage and sell routes with NFL-like intricacy will translate well at the next level. Bateman's route running is undoubtedly the strongest aspect of his game.
Short Routes: 9.5/10 - His footwork efficiency allows for instant separation when necessary.
Medium Routes: 10/10 - Bateman will work best in the 10-15 yard range in the NFL. He is a technician on medium routes against off-man coverage.
Deep Routes: 9.5/10
Quickness: 8/10 - His lateral shiftiness, while not elite, is enough for him to create quick separation.
Long Speed: 8/10 - Bateman is by no means a burner, but he has more than enough speed to consistently win vertically.
Zone IQ: 9.5/10 - Coupled with his excellent route running, Bateman's ability to read and settle in zones makes him a threat against a variety of coverages.
Release: 9.5/10 - With precise footwork and nuanced route-running, Bateman can consistently produce against press.
50/50 Ball: 8/10 - Though Bateman certainly isn't a prototypical jump-ball receiver, his surprisingly large frame and strong body control allow him to be a remarkable threat, especially on back-shoulder fades.
Big Play Factor: 7/10 - Bateman isn't a home-run-hitting wide receiver who can threaten to score on any given play. However, he will likely be a yardage machine in the league because of his ability to get open. His "big plays" will come in the form of consistent 20-, 25-yard gains within the numbers.
Draft Grade: Early-Mid 1st Round
Fit with the Patriots:
I am very high on Bateman and I truly believe he can be the Justin Jefferson of this year's draft. Like Jefferson, Bateman has seen little to no media hype, especially compared to bigger-school prospects like Ja'Marr Chase, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.
Yet, his skill set exudes versatility and would allow him to fulfill a myriad of roles for the New England Patriots' offense. His build, physicality, technical route-running skills, and contested catch ability can make him a premier X receiver at the next level.
Bateman is a yardage machine who will best operate in two places: within the 10-15-yard range, especially within the numbers, and vertically, especially on double moves. In either event, Bateman will be a menace off play action, which would add to the versatility of the Patriots' normally heavier personnel groupings involving Damien Harris.
In his free agency frenzy, Bill Belichick has found targets for Cam Newton who can specialize in the middle of the field, such as Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry and Kendrick Bourne. With Julian Edelman's injury last season, Newton was forced to consistently pass sideline to sideline, making it difficult for the offense to put together any rhythm. With another target like Bateman who can do everything from stretch the field vertically to dissect defenses at the intermediate middle, Newton would have no shortage of weapons.
Though the name isn't beloved among New England fans, Bateman could likely excel in the role that Belichick envisioned for Mohamed Sanu. Sanu showed flashes of potential, such as during the 2019 Sunday night matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, but was unable to produce in the long run. Bateman may very well be the answer to the archetype of receiver the Patriots have been unable to successfully acquire.