After selecting Zach Wilson in our 2021 On Tap Sports Net NFL Mock Draft, the Jets need to give their young star some weapons. After acquiring this pick from the Seattle Seahawks in the Jamal Adams trade, the Jets should take a receiver. However, the top three receivers in the draft (Jaylen Waddle, Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith) should all be off the board by pick #23.
That said, the On Tap Sports Net crew believes the Jets target Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman to give Wilson another playmaker to start his career with.
Bateman is an ideal outside target for any quarterback. He has solid size, standing 6’0″ and weighing in at 190 lbs. with plenty of range. One of his many strengths is his ability to create separation from defenders. In the full 2019 college season, Bateman had unrivaled separation numbers on most routes.
Bateman’s success for getting open stems from his release. He has a unique set of release moves that allow him to thrive at the line of scrimmage. The key to being a good receiver is being open, and Bateman possesses the tools to ensure he is open more often than not.
His numbers also showed he can get open. Bateman’s stats suffered in 2020, having only played five games. However, in 2019, Bateman hauled in 60 catches for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 20.3 yards per catch average quantifies his ability to get down field and cause havoc. Over the course of his career, Bateman hauled in 147 passes for 2,395 yards and 19 touchdowns. Had Minnesota played a full schedule in 2020, its safe to assume Bateman’s numbers would have rivaled his 2019 stats.
His route running compliments his release well, leading to his first-round draft grade. Bateman is a receiver worth getting excited about, and to say that Zach Wilson wouldn’t be excited for his new weapon on the outside is likely false. If Bateman is this good with his hands, route running, and release, then why is he not considered a top 15 pick?
Possibly the biggest concern with Bateman at the next level is his success against press coverage. Not only does his release get lazy or inefficient against press corners, but he also struggles to be consistent against top level corners. The key for Bateman may be getting a little stronger in order to muscle through more physical corners at the next level.
In addition, Bateman’s hip tightness could create issues with complex routes in the NFL. Not every college receiver runs a full route tree, but against lesser competition Bateman thrived with route running. At the next level, if he doesn’t work on his flexibility, it could limit his route running and in turn limit his playing time. In order for Bateman to become a dangerous weapon for the Jets, he’ll need to get stronger and work on hip flexibility.
These are mild concerns for Bateman. The tape shows his talent level and how special of a receiver he is. As long as the Jets know what situations benefit Bateman, he can be an immediate contributor at the NFL level and for his rookie quarterback if he goes to New York.
Bateman is a very talented receiver. He has some mild concerns, just as every other prospect does, but has the tape to back up his draft stock. Bateman shows the ability to create early separation, solid catch-and-run skills, and good route running, all making him a dangerous receiver. He struggles most against press, but with some work and good coaching, Bateman can be the type of target that a rookie quarterback needs and the New York Jets desperately want.