Rashod Bateman

Ravens Expected Packers To Draft Rashod Bateman At No. 29

The Packers last drafted a first-round wide receiver in 2002 — Javon Walker — but they may have been prepared to pull the trigger this year. The Ravens, at least, viewed that as likely to take place.

Earlier this month, select execs around the league viewed Green Bay as Rashod Bateman‘s landing spot — if he remained on the board at No. 29. The Ravens were among the teams that believed this would transpire. Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said as much recently, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com notes. The Ravens drafted Bateman 27th overall.

Certainly, we knew [the Packers] liked him and a lot of teams like Rashod,” Hortiz said, via Hensley. “We don’t know for certain, but you do try to pay attention to, ‘OK, the GMs were at this pro day’ — especially this year because the GMs weren’t able to get out and see players. Brian [Gutekunst] is going to look at players that he was interested in. We try to give Eric [DeCosta] all the information that we can get at a pro day (and) at a school visit.”

Gutekunst stood next to Hortiz at Bateman’s pro day in Minneapolis; the longtime friends commuted from the airport to the Golden Gophers’ facility, per Hensley. The Packers ended up taking Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes at No. 29.

Part of the Aaron Rodgers-Packers impasse involves the team’s approach to the receiver position. The Packers were candidates to take a first-round wideout last year but surprised most by trading up for Jordan Love. The team had multiple second-round receivers on its radar in 2020 but could not maneuver to land them. They exited the ’20 draft without taking a receiver. This year, Green Bay selected Clemson’s Amari Rodgers in Round 3.

The Ravens have now taken first-round wide receivers twice in the past three years. Bateman will join Marquise Brown in Baltimore. The Bateman move came after the Ravens added Sammy Watkins in free agency. The team aggressively pursued veteran wideouts this offseason, but J.J. Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton accepted less money to stay with their respective teams. Bateman broke out with a 60-catch, 1,219-yard sophomore season in 2019 and will be expected to play a major role for the run-heavy Ravens next season.

When I came out of the pro day, I called Eric and John [Harbaugh]: ‘You got to watch his pro day,'” Hortiz said. “You can definitely feel his speed. With him, you really felt it — his ability to get in and out [of cuts] and show that twitch and strength that can transition into the burst and explosion. Certainly the pro day helped.”

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NFC North Notes: Bears, Sewell, Bateman

In a comprehensive piece, Adam Jahns of The Athletic details how Bears GM Ryan Pace, head coach Matt Nagy, and the rest of Chicago’s brain trust approached their quarterback situation this offseason. These types of behind-the-scenes stories are always worth a read, especially for fans of the team in question, and particularly notable here is that the club identified the No. 8 through No. 12 overall selections as the “sweet spot” to target a collegiate QB. Pace’s predraft research indicated that trying to acquire the Falcons’ No. 4 overall pick would require too much draft capital, but he didn’t want to start calling teams holding picks eight through 12 too early for fear of tipping his hand.

So he waited until the day of the draft to start making those calls, and while the early run on QBs pushed down quality players at other positions, Pace identified Ohio State QB Justin Fields as his top target. 11 Bears staffers filed reports on Fields, and all of them had very similar grades on him. Pace and Giants GM Dave Gettleman had worked out the parameters of a trade earlier in the day, and when Fields was still on the board after the Eagles leapfrogged the Giants — Pace feared Philadelphia might have been targeting Fields — Chicago and New York were able to swing a trade that brought the former Buckeye to the Windy City. Now, Pace and Nagy will hope that the bold maneuver will help them keep their jobs.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Even though the Bears just signed Andy Dalton this offseason, they extended him a courtesy that the Packers did not extend to Aaron Rodgers when they drafted Jordan Love last year: they told Dalton that they might pick a QB. “I talked to [Dalton] earlier in the day on [the day of the draft], and we were just catching up,” Nagy said (via Albert Breer of SI.com). “And at the same time I said, ‘Hey, listen man, I have no idea which way this thing may go, you never know, but all positions are open and we can do a lot of different things, including at quarterback. So I just want you to understand that and be aware for that.'” Of course, the news couldn’t have come as a surprise to Dalton, who was signed to a one-year contract and who presumably has no delusions that the Bears acquired him as their quarterback of the future, but it’s the type of gesture that might have helped ease the strain on the Packers’ relationship with Rodgers.
  • The Lions‘ first-round pick, No. 7 overall selection Penei Sewell, has tested positive for COVID-19, as Sewell himself tweeted several days ago. He will therefore miss this weekend’s rookie minicamp, but at this point it sounds like he is either asymptomatic or else has mild symptoms, so there shouldn’t be any cause for concern.
  • The Packers selected Georgia CB Eric Stokes with the No. 29 overall pick of the draft, but if Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman had still been around, execs around the league believe he would have been the choice, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes (subscription required). Of course, taking a first-round receiver this year after selecting Love in the first round in 2020 might not have been enough to placate Rodgers. The Ravens took Bateman off the board with the No. 27 overall selection.
  • The Vikings have been busy over the past couple of days, trading cornerback Mike Hughes to the Chiefs and signing first-round pick Christian Darrisaw.

Ravens Sign First-Rounder Rashod Bateman

The first of the Ravens’ two 2021 first-round picks, Rashod Bateman is now under contract. The former Minnesota wide receiver signed his rookie deal Wednesday.

The No. 27 overall pick, Bateman signed a $12.6MM contract — with a $6.5MM signing bonus — and is now under contract through 2024. He could be kept through 2025 on this deal via the now-fully guaranteed fifth-year option. Baltimore will not have to make that decision until May 2024. In the meantime, Bateman will be a welcome addition to a team that has changed up its receiving corps this offseason.

It has not been especially easy for the Ravens to bolster their receiving crew. They were in on Kenny Golladay, and both JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton passed on better offers from Baltimore in order to re-sign with the teams that drafted them. Although the Ravens did sign Sammy Watkins, their run-heavy offense has predictably been an issue for free agent wideouts. As such, the Ravens have spent first-round picks on receivers in two of the past three years.

At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Bateman will bring a different skill set compared to Marquise Brown. In 2019, however, Bateman did post a Brown-like yards-per-catch figure (20.9). After that 1,219-yard, 11-touchdown season, the big-bodied wideout played a limited role in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. Bateman opted out, opted back in, then left the Golden Gophers during the season to prepare for the draft. He still wound up a first-round pick and will attempt to give Lamar Jackson a steady target on the outside.

Bateman is the first of Baltimore’s draftees to sign and the second first-round pick to ink his rookie contract. The Colts signed Kwity Paye last week.

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Rashod Bateman Opts Out, Enters 2021 Draft

Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman made a decision to opt out of his junior season because of COVID-19 concerns this summer but reconsidered after the Big Ten announced plans to start its campaign in the fall. But recent developments prompted Bateman to again decide to begin early preparations for his NFL career.

The standout pass catcher will wrap his final Golden Gophers slate early, citing the increased coronavirus issues (Twitter link). COVID trouble caused the cancelation of Minnesota’s Saturday game against Wisconsin, with the 100-plus-year-old rivalry representing one of many cancellations or postponements to occur across Division I-FBS over the past several days. Nine Minnesota players and six staffers tested positive for COVID-19 over the past five days. The Gophers played without 20 players due to COVID and injuries last week.

Bateman is expected to be a surefire first-round pick in 2021. Scouts Inc. rates the 6-foot-2 receiver as its No. 9 overall draft-eligible player for 2021. While wideouts Ja’Marr Chase — an LSU summer opt-out — and Alabama’s Devonta Smith rank ahead of Bateman, he will be a coveted target in yet another strong receiver draft.

This season, Bateman is averaging more yards per game than he did during a breakout 1,219-yard sophomore slate. The Gophers’ top weapon was on track to push for another 1,000-yard season, despite Minnesota being set to max out at eight games this year. He caught 36 passes for 472 yards and two scores in five games.

It will be interesting to see if other early-round prospects follow Bateman’s lead, in light of what has become an increasingly unstable college football season.

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WR Notes: Godwin, Lions, Broncos, Bateman

A bevy of wide receiver news has surfaced Friday, with several key weapons either out or likely to be shelved for Week 2. Here is the latest from the wideout ranks:

  • The Buccaneers have given Chris Godwin a doubtful designation. The contract-year wide receiver displayed concussion-like symptoms Wednesday, after absorbing a late-game hit in last week’s loss to the Saints, and remains in Tampa Bay’s protocol. Godwin has missed just two career games.
  • For a second straight week, the Lions will be without Kenny Golladay. Joining Godwin as a contract-year standout on the verge of a big payday, Golladay will miss another game because of a hamstring malady.
  • The Broncos will have their first- and second-round picks together in game action this week, with K.J. Hamler set to join Jerry Jeudy. Vic Fangio said Hamler will play. The second-rounder sustained a hamstring injury during training camp. Denver may have to wait for any Jeudy-Hamler-Courtland Sutton formations, however, with the Broncos’ No. 1 target remaining questionable with a sprained AC joint.
  • During Week 1, DeVante Parker aggravated a hamstring issue he initially encountered during training camp. The Dolphins‘ No. 1 target is questionable to play Sunday.
  • The Texans worked out Devin Smith this week, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. The Cowboys cut Smith, a former Jets second-round pick, as they trimmed their roster to 53 players. Now 28, Smith has just 15 career receptions since being a coveted prospect in 2015.
  • An interesting situation has emerged at the University of Minnesota, one of several Big Ten teams who saw an impact talent opt out and declare for the 2021 draft. First-round wide receiver prospect Rashod Bateman opted out this summer, but the high-end target is angling to return now. Bateman is back on campus but has signed with an agent, per Yahoo’s Pete Thamel (on Twitter). Due to the unusual circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has created — particularly in the Big Ten, which announced an October restart this week — the Golden Gophers are attempting to secure a waiver from the NCAA to allow Bateman to play.

Ohio State CB Shaun Wade Opts Back In; Latest On Other Big Ten Opt-Outs

With the Big Ten now on track to begin its season in late October, Ohio State will have one of its top players back. Standout cornerback Shaun Wade said during an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter (via ESPN.com’s Field Yates, on Twitter) he changed his mind on opting out of the 2020 season. He is now set to play as a senior.

Set to follow the likes of Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Jeff Okudah as an Ohio State corner to hear his name called in the first round, Wade will do so after playing a fourth Buckeyes season. He ranks as the No. 7 player on Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest 2021 big board.

Wade hired an agent but did not file any paperwork, according to ESPN.com. He is not the only one of the Big Ten opt-outs to reconsider. Ohio State offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, a potential first-round pick, also reversed course and opted back in (Twitter link).

First-round prospects Micah Parsons (linebacker, Penn State), Rondale Moore (wide receiver, Purdue), Jalen Mayfield (tackle, Michigan) and Rashod Bateman (wide receiver, Minnesota) opted out before Wade initially decided to pass on 2020. Not all are committed to skipping the season, though some still are.

Penn State coach James Franklin said the door is open for Parsons to play as a junior, according to PennLive.com, while Purdue HC Jeff Brohm intends to check on Moore’s status now that the conference timetable has changed. Bateman, however, does not plan to opt back in, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Golden Gophers standout wideout has asthma and cited health concerns as a reason he will skip the COVID-19-altered season to prepare for the draft. Despite playing just one full season with the Wolverines, Mayfield plans to stick with his decision to bypass his junior season, per the Detroit Free Press.

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Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman Opts Out, Declares For 2021 NFL Draft

Although each of the Power 5 conferences announced plans for adjusted seasons, the college football landscape remains uncertain. Some lower-level conferences have tabled their seasons. The University of Connecticut canceled its slate.

A season set to be defined by the COVID-19 pandemic will force NFL prospects to make difficult decisions. A potential first-round talent made one. Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman opted out of the 2020 season. He has declared for the 2021 draft.

In light of the uncertainty around health and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to set my wishes aside for the wellness of my family, community and beyond,” Bateman said. “Because of this, I have decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season and I will be taking the next steps in my journey by declaring for the 2021 NFL draft.”

Bateman will only have played two college seasons, but the 2018 recruit will be eligible for the draft due to being out of high school for three years. The Golden Gophers wideout caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He rates 19th on Todd McShay’s early big board for 2021. The 2021 class could include other standout receivers — like LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase or Alabama holdovers Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle — but the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Bateman figures to factor into the first-round mix.

Coming shortly after Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley‘s choice, Bateman’s opt-out decision may impact other players expected to go early in the 2021 draft.

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