Many mock drafts and analysts have the Miami Dolphins selecting a wide receiver in one of the first two rounds in the upcoming draft. Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman could very well be a receiver the Dolphins call on draft night. The 6’1″ 210 lbs prospect is projected to be a starter at the professional level after playing three seasons for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Bateman caught 51 receptions for 704 yards and six touchdowns as a true freshman. His receptions and yards that season were the most recorded by a freshman wide receiver in Minnesota school history, and sophomore year, he picked up right where he left off. In his second season, Bateman brought in 60 receptions for 1219 yards and 11 touchdowns, which led him to win the Big Ten’s Richter–Howard Receiver of the Year award. Bateman continued to produce at a high-level his junior year. Still, due to health concerns because of the increased number of outbreaks, Bateman elected to sit out the remainder of the season.
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Like many other players on the Dolphins, Bateman possesses a comprehensive skill set and a lot of versatility. He is definitely one of the best route technicians in this year’s draft class. He makes everything look easy and knows how to run many routes. With an impressive mix of ball skills and high-level route running, Bateman can line up anywhere on the field. Whether it is on the perimeter or in the slot, Bateman has the size and athleticism to compete and produce. One thing worth highlighting specifically is Bateman’s ability in the short passing game. Bateman runs slants and curl routes really well, as he is smooth coming out of his breaks, and he gets off the line of scrimmage immediately, making it hard to go man coverage against him. This was something the Dolphins needed on offense, as receivers struggled to produce in the short game consistently. Bateman’s technique, frame, and ability would provide this needed consistency for the Dolphins, and his strengths go hand-in-hand with QB Tua Tagovailoa’s strengths. Tagovailoa possesses crazy accuracy and anticipation, which can only be fully utilized in the short passing game with a good route runner like Bateman.
However, it is important to note that Bateman is way more than just a good route runner because his ability to track the football and win contested catches shines just as much. He knows when to high-point the football and the right times to get more physical with his defender. He is always looking to come down with the football and drops the ball rarely. His playmaking can be seen on any highlight tape, but one catch in particular worth referencing is his one-handed touchdown catch against South Dakota State his sophomore season. Bateman effortlessly catches a 40-yard pass during this play with his left-hand while waltzing into the end zone.
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Having a broad skillset also means having many skills to hone and perfect. Bateman is good at pretty much everything but not dominant in any one area. In the NFL, it is hard to be consistent for a long time, and for a receiver to have that success, they really have to hone their craft. Bateman will have the opportunity to get the finer details down in his route running, ball skills, and pass-catching ability once he is in the league. Bateman could also work on his blocking skills, as there are times when he could stay on a block a little longer. If he lines up in the slot, there might be plays where he has a more challenging block assignment, and he will need to step up.
This Miami Dolphins’ offseason seems to be all about building the offense, and the 2021 NFL Draft has a lot of talented offensive players, especially at receiver. LSU’s Ja’marr Chase and Alabama’s DeVonta Smith continue to dominate the headlines. Those are both amazing players but do not forget that Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman could also be a star.
Bateman would be an awesome choice if available at top of 2nd round ! I would like to see 2 WR’s chosen along with a stud RB, one of the following: Harris, J.Williams, Chuba, Etienne. Phins blew it last year with their 3rd first rounder. Any of these guys would have been a big help: Dobbins, Taylor, Ackers, Moss, Dillon, Edwards Helaire. Phins took CB Ighbo. He may be good one day, but was useless to the team this past year.