News & Analysis

Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman opts out of the 2020 college football season

With the sports world in flux due to COVID-19, NFL and college football players alike have been given the choice to opt out of their respective seasons. On Tuesday, wide receiver Rashod Bateman — Minnesota's top prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft — added his name to the pool. He chose to opt out of the 2020 season and will prepare for next spring’s draft. He is the 20th-ranked player on PFF’s preseason draft board, and he has little projection to speak of after producing at an elite level as a true sophomore in 2019.

Subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions to get access to the following tools, charts, etc. 

– All Premium Article Content
– Fantasy Football Rankings & Projections
– Fantasy Football Draft Guide, Cheat Sheets & Advanced Stats
– Fantasy Football Mock Draft Tool (DraftMaster)
– Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule Matrix
– NFL Player Grades
– NFL Premium Stats

Subscribe now!

[Editors Note: PFF’s customizable NFL Mock Draft Simulator gives you the opportunity to be the GM of any team and is now updated with a select group of 2021 prospects]

Strengths

Listed at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Bateman has the all-around versatile body type that gives you no pause about his skill set translating to the NFL. He can win outside or inside, and he creates separation at every level of the field while thriving after the catch. The only thing missing from Bateman’s game is elite athleticism, but he still looks above-average on tape.

As a sophomore in 2019, he ranked seventh nationally in yards per route run (3.48), although that mark seemingly doesn't even do Bateman justice. The Minnesota receiver won where it’s the most difficult to do so: from the outside. And he did so more frequently than anyone in college football — yes, even Ja’Marr Chase. His 3.6 yards per route from a split-wide alignment led all receivers in the FBS. A big reason for that is just how gifted he is already with his release packages. He gets off the line of scrimmage about as well as anyone in college football, aside from Chase.

There simply aren't reps on his tape where he gets locked up early and taken out of a progression. Wide receivers won't see the field if they can’t get off the line of scrimmage in the NFL. The vast majority of early-round busts at the position don’t translate to the league because they can’t deal with NFL-level physicality at the line and early in their routes. With Bateman, that’s no issue whatsoever.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with Bateman, who checked in at fourth in PFF’s preseason wide receiver rankings. Drops have been somewhat of an issue in both of his seasons with the Golden Gophers. As a freshman, he had eight drops on 57 catchable targets. And this past year, he coughed up five on 65 catchable targets. Still, it's not a big enough issue that I’d use them as anything more than a tiebreaker in a draft conversation.

If there were another concern, it’s the level of competition Bateman faced at Minnesota last season. He skirted the talented press-man corners from both Michigan and Ohio State on his 2019 Big Ten schedule. In Minnesota’s bowl game against Auburn and Noah Igbinoghene, he couldn’t get much going, hauling in three catches for 49 yards — 34 of which came on a screen. But the tape shows that’s not necessarily representative of his performance, as he was able to consistently get off the line of scrimmage and create separation along his route against the Auburn corner. If that’s the biggest criticism of a player, I’m not too worried.

The bottom line is that while a 2020 season could have boosted Bateman’s draft stock and solidified his status as an early draft pick, he already proved himself to be a first-round talent.

College Featured Tools

  • PFF's exclusive metrics provide matchup previews, position rankings, grades, and snap counts.

    Available with

    CFB Grades+
  • Our exclusive database, featuring the most in-depth collection of NCAA player performance data.

    Available with

    CFB Prem Stats+
  • PFF predictions and real time spread, moneyline and over/under lines for each NCAA game.

    Available with

    Elite CFB Prem Stats+
College Subscriptions

Unlock College Player Grades and Preview Magazine

$7.99 / mo
$27.99 / yr

Unlock NCAA Premium Stats & PFF Greenline NCAA

$29.99 / mo
$119.99 / yr