Those who wanted the Ravens to draft a wide receiver Day 1 got their wish. The Ravens selected Minnesota's playmaking wide receiver Rashod Bateman with the 27th pick in the 2021 draft.
Bateman is the fifth wide receiver Baltimore has drafted over the past three years and it's the second time in three years that General Manager has used his top pick on a wideout, joining Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.
Known for his route-running and making tough catches in traffic, Bateman also has breakaway speed and is a threat to turn even short throws into long gains. Another weapon for quarterback Lamar Jackson is about to arrive.
Bateman impressed people by running a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, and his speed shows up on game days. NFL Network's Bucky Brooks believes Bateman is a solid fit for Baltimore.
"Bateman is more of your classic, traditional No. 1 receiver that you would see year after year," Brooks said on "The Lounge" podcast. "I think the main thing that you have to do if you're Baltimore, you have to look at your team and figure out what do you need on the perimeter. I would say you need more size on the outside. And not just size like a big hulking playmaker, but like a big physical player that can really occupy their No. 1 position."
Size: 6-foot, 190 pounds
2020 stats: 5 games, 36 catches, 472 yards, 2 touchdowns
2019 stats: 13 games, 60 catches, 1,219 yards, 11 touchdowns
Why he fits the Ravens: In addition to his speed, he is not a receiver who shies away from contact, which should serve him well in Baltimore's system where receivers are asked to block to enhance their potent running attack. After adding Sammy Watkins on a one-year deal in free agency, Bateman gives Baltimore even more depth at the position and raises the competition for playing time among the wide receiver group.
How the pick went down: Bateman and Terrace Marshall Jr. of LSU were the two wide receivers most often linked to the Ravens in mock drafts. The most surprising pick among wide receivers may have been Kadarius Toney of Florida going No. 20 to the Giants. No other wide receivers went after Toney until the Ravens' pick, and given the choice between Bateman and Marshall, they took Bateman.
Scouting report: "Dominant, game-controlling receiver who made an impact for Minnesota ever since stepping onto the field as a freshman. Smooth and fluid, sells routes, and quickly gets into breaks. Comes across the middle of the field, makes the difficult catch in a crowd, and consistently extends to grab the ball away from his frame. Must do a better job finishing blocks. Comes off a somewhat disappointing 2020 season. Possesses terrific short-area quickness, keeps his focus and concentration, and stays with the action. Works hard even if the play is away from him." – Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network
Background: Bateman initially opted out of the 2020 season when it appeared the Big 10 would not play in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he opted back in and after being reinstated by the NCAA, Bateman changed his jersey number from No. 13 to No. 0 to reflect his "zero tolerance for racism in this culture."
What the Ravens said: "We feel really strongly about our receivers and competition is great. We're trying to build the best team. He really checked off all the boxes." – General Manager Eric DeCosta
"He put on a great performance at his Pro Day." – Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz
What Bateman said: "I just felt like the Ravens had good people in their organization. I'm really excited to be a part of that. COVID definitely had an impact on me (during the 2020 season) because I have asthma as well. I lost about 10 pounds and it just affected my body and the way I performed. I got fatigued. It definitely feels better to have my weight back up."