Discerning the Limbo That Rashod Bateman is In

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Minnesota’s star receiver had a rocky 2020 season. After initially declaring that he was sitting out the year due to COVID concerns, Bateman ended up appearing in five games for the Gophers. During those five games he totaled 472 receiving yards, 13.1 yards per catch, and two touchdowns.

Not the strongest campaign, but it could be excused by the state of, well, all of the world in 2020. It also came following a very very strong 2019 season where he helped the University of Minnesota return to the national stage with their most wins since they were a national powerhouse and Teddy Roosevelt was president.

With this in mind, where will Rashod Bateman fall in the 2021 NFL Draft? At the end of 2019, he was competing with and maybe even beating out the likes of Ja’marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and Devonta Smith. However, after a rough season and a lack of NFL Combine for him to show off his skills next to this classes other top receivers, Bateman is left in limbo between the top-tier of receivers and the second wave.

He certainly showed his skills in 2019, but should teams bet a first round pick for a player who didn’t show out when he didn’t have Tyler Johnson to take attention away from him? In short, yes. One thing you have to realize is just how awful Tanner Morgan, the Golden Gophers quarterback, played in 2020.

Morgan was quickly gaining momentum to be a mid-early round pick himself when he showed off his ability to lead an explosive read-pass option offense with a tendency to torch defenders deep in 2019. However, in 2020 he looked dreadful and lost the faith of the coaching staff a bit. This led to running back Mohamed Ibrahim getting a heavy workload and keeping both Morgan from looking dreadful and Bateman from showing more off.

It’s still mostly unclear whether Bateman will be a late first round pick. It’s very possible that he goes at the 15-32 spot depending on whether others in front of him slide. However, much like in previous years, the second tier of receivers could slip to the second or even third rounds. Either way, Bateman has the skills and talent to succeed in the NFL and should compete with those of his class to be heralded as the best rookie receiver in the NFL.