Analytics Suggest Rashod Bateman Is Primed for Breakout Season
A number of pundits are predicting a big leap for Rashod Bateman in his second season, and the Ravens are counting on it since he is their No. 1 wide receiver. Those predictions are based on Bateman's potential and the flashes the first-round pick showed last year in an injury-shortened season.
However, optimism for a breakout season by Bateman goes beyond the eye test, according to Ebony Bird's Josh Siegel. Siegel took a deep dive into Bateman's rookie statistics and the numbers don't lie.
"No matter where you look, the numbers paint a story of a rookie season for Rashod Bateman that was not only productive, but indicative of future success," Siegel wrote.
Siegel noted that it's common for receivers to post better numbers in the second halves of their rookie seasons than the first. Bateman, who missed most of training camp and the first five games of the regular season due to a groin injury, put up similar numbers over his first eight games (in his case from Weeks 6-14) as one would expect from a receiver ready for that second-half breakout, despite playing a smaller percentage of snaps due to his injury.
Per Siegel, here's how Bateman compared with other prominent receivers in their first eight games in terms of catches, yards, touchdowns and snap percentage:
Rashod Bateman: 32/404/0/59%
DeVonta Smith: 33/421/1/88%
D.K. Metcalf: 23/402/4/77%
Jaylen Waddle: 48/413/3/83%
A.J. Brown: 22/348/3/53%
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 27/250/0/66%
"What Bateman was doing in those games was no different than most high-profile rookie receivers, but he was putting up those numbers while playing fewer snaps. But when Bateman was ready for a greater snap count, Lamar Jackson was lost for the season," Siegel wrote. "Over the last four games of the year, Bateman's snap percentage increased all the way to 86%, but he no longer had the quarterback with whom those snaps were meant to be played.
"Bateman's target share dropped from 13% over his first eight games to just 9% over the last four, even while playing more snaps. When looking at the basic numbers, it is clear that Bateman was on the correct path as a rookie, but injuries and bad timing meant there was never a chance for there to be a payoff during 2021."
Siegel said advanced metrics also show that Bateman was more valuable than his raw numbers (46 catches, 515 yards, one touchdown) would indicate.
Despite being just 68th in the NFL in routes run due to playing only 12 games and fewer snaps, Bateman still managed to wind up 46th in Football Outsiders' DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement), which takes into account the value provided by a player and looks at how many yards they generated over a replacement-level player, before adjusting for the quality of opponent.
"While nothing earth-shattering, that number is still extremely impressive given the context of Bateman's season, and still puts him ahead of players like Diontae Johnson, D.J. Moore, and yes, Marquise Brown," Siegel wrote. "The reason for Bateman's positive advanced metrics is pretty simple — he was really valuable when he played. Perhaps the greatest value a receiver can provide is in being a consistent chain mover and Bateman was just that with a remarkable 29 of his 46 catches going for first downs.
"What's more, Bateman was incredibly efficient, only dropping the ball twice all year while finishing 22nd in catch rate and fifth in contested catch rate according to PlayerProfiler."
On a side note, Bateman was one of 10 veterans on the NFLPA's 2022 Rising Stars List, which identifies top rookies and veterans poised to have breakout seasons, gain fan support and ultimately rank among the top-sellers of all officially licensed player merchandise.
Brian Baldinger Expects Odafe Oweh to 'Make a Big Jump This Year'
Speaking of players poised for a breakout season in Year 2, NFL Network's Brian Baldinger said he expects outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, the Ravens' other first-round pick in 2021, to "make a big jump this year."
"That's a young player that I think has all the potential to have double-digit sacks for a long time in this league," Baldinger said.
Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey noted that the ceiling for the Ravens' defensive line — which he ranked 18th — hinges on Oweh's improvement.
"Oweh had a solid rookie season against both the run and pass, ending the year with a 67.9 PFF grade," Linsey wrote. "He enters the 2022 season as the Ravens' top option off the edge and will be relied upon to generate pressure on a defense lacking high-end pass-rushing options."
Ravens Named Potential Landing Spot for Robert Quinn if He's Traded
Veteran free-agent edge rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Houston have been linked to the Ravens this offseason, but another accomplished edge rusher might be on the trade market.
Three-time Pro Bowler Robert Quinn did not report to the Chicago Bears' mandatory minicamp yesterday, and it's possible that he'll be traded or released. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported in April that teams are "sniffing around" on Quinn for a potential trade.
Quinn, 32, was second in the league in sacks last season with 18.5. He has 101 career sacks, including 19 with the Rams in 2013.
Pro Football Network's Dallas Robinson named the Ravens as one of four potential landing spots for Quinn if he is traded.
"The Bears would realize $12.9 million in cap savings by trading or releasing Quinn," Robinson wrote. "Any team that acquires him would be on the hook for his $12.8 million base salary. However, Chicago may be willing to eat some of that total to land better draft pick compensation."
The Ravens got a first-hand look last year at how dominant Quinn can be. He had a career-high 3.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and a forced fumble against Baltimore in Week 10.
Three Ravens Make Pete Prisco's Top 100 Players List
Mark Andrews was the highest-ranked Raven on CBS Sports' Pete Prisco's annual top 100 players list. The All-Pro tight end was No. 30 after not being ranked last year.
"He led all tight ends last season in catches and yards. He has established himself among the elite of the tight end position in the NFL, and at the age of 26, he has a lot of good football ahead of him," Prisco wrote.
Despite coming off a dominant season, Andrews was ranked 11 spots behind Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
Two other Ravens made the rankings: Jackson (No. 34) and safety Marcus Williams (No. 100).
Six quarterbacks were ranked ahead of Jackson: Aaron Rodgers (No. 2), Patrick Mahomes (No. 3), Josh Allen (No. 4), Tom Brady (No. 6), Justin Herbert (No. 20) and Joe Burrow (No. 21).
The Cincinnati Bengals had the most players on the list among AFC North teams (five), followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers (four). The Cleveland Browns joined the Ravens with three.
Greg Cosell: Kyle Hamilton Compares Favorably With Kam Chancellor
Greg Cosell of NFL Films had high praise for the Ravens' draft class, especially first-round safety Kyle Hamilton. Cosell said Hamilton compares favorably with four-time Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks.
"Kyle Hamilton is a really, really good player. There's very few like him, and that's the thing," Cosell said on "The Ross Tucker Football Podcast." "The way he's built — he's long, lean, he's athletic; he plays with his eyes extremely well; his ability to cover ground is as good as any safety we've seen in recent years because of that length and the stride length.
"He's a much more fluid athlete than someone like Kam Chancellor, who was obviously 6-foot-4 as well and 230 pounds," Cosell said. "Hamilton doesn't quite weigh that much and is built totally differently. Hamilton looks more like a sleek athlete, whereas a guy like Kam Chancellor at that size, almost looked like a linebacker, as many might recall. So to me, there's no one I can think of, you know, even someone like Jayron Kearse, who's essentially a safety slash linebacker for the Cowboys, he doesn't weigh 230, but Hamilton is a sleeker looking athlete and a better athlete than Kearse."
Cosell also singled out fourth-round tight end Charlie Kolar and fourth-round cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis.
"What Charlie Kolar may have done better than any tight end in this draft class is get open and catch the ball," Cosell said. " … I really, really liked [Armour-Davis'] tape. I thought he was worthy of a higher draft round than the fourth. I think the injury history probably made some people have some apprehension of where to draft him. But I really liked his tape and I think he can become a true quality starting outside corner in this league."
- NFL.com's Adam Rank predicts the Ravens' 2022 record to be 10-6-1.