The Las Vegas Raiders just lost their best wide receiver from last season, with Nelson Agholor signing a two-year contract with the New England Patriots.
With both Agholor and Tyrell Williams gone, the depth behind last year’s first-round pick Henry Ruggs III has gotten a lot thinner.
That means that the Raiders could now look at taking a wide receiver early in the 2021 NFL Draft.
At pick No. 17, they probably won’t be in the range to take Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle.
The receiver is one of the deeper positions in the draft this year, which means the Raiders could still take a talent like Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman.
It didn’t take long for Bateman to make an impact for the Golden Gophers, stepping in as a true freshman in 2018 and recording 51 catches for 704 yards and six touchdowns.
He firmly established himself as a go-to wideout with an excellent sophomore season.
In 2019, Bateman had 60 catches for 1,219 yards, 11 touchdowns, and averaged 20.3 yards per catch.
His 1,219 yards were the second-most in the Big Ten that year while his YPC average was No. 1 in the conference.
Bateman initially was going to follow up that campaign by opting out of the 2020 season. He ended up opting back in and played five games before opting out again and moving on to the draft.
In those five games, Bateman had 36 catches for 472 yards and two touchdowns.
Bateman comes in having worn multiple hats at Minnesota, starring on the outside in 2019 before being used more in the slot in 2020.
That backs up an all-around skill set that Bateman offers as a prospect.
He’s capable at 6-2 and 210 pounds of going up and making contested catches and shows the ability to make plays after the catch, breaking 36 tackles in his career.
Scouts also give high marks to Bateman's route-running, noting he’s especially proficient breaking out across the middle of the field with his smooth release.
As a pure athlete, Bateman is not regarded as having elite speed, and he’s dealt with drops over the course of his career.
Despite the speed aspect, he’s still been able to win downfield often, evidenced by his 14 deep passes caught in 2019.
Bateman should find himself at the top of the draft's second tier of wide receivers, and the Raiders could be primed to take him and give Ruggs a running mate.
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