Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman will opt out of the 2020 season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
On Tuesday morning, Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman announced that he would be sitting out the 2020 season. He is the second major prospect to opt-out of the 2020 season, as Bateman follows the lead of Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley.
“In light of the uncertainty around health and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to set my wishes aside for the wellness of my family, community and beyond. Because of this, I have decided to opt-out of the 2020 college football season and I will be taking the next steps in my journey by declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft,” Bateman said in a video posted to Twitter.
Bateman is coming off of a 2019 season where he caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was clearly one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the Big Ten and was set up for a massive 2020 season with running-mate Tyler Johnson moving on to the NFL.
Bateman is a big and physical receiver who battles for the ball in the air at an extremely high level. He does a great job of controlling his body in the air and uses his strong hands to rip the ball away from defenders in almost every situation. He does not have elite size on the outside (listed at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds), but Bateman has a knack for coming down with the ball in contested-catch situations.
He is also a dynamic run-after-catch receiver who is naturally smooth and elusive with the ball in his hands. Bateman does a great job of finding open space after the catch and has the quickness to make defenders miss in space. He also shows impressive natural power and contact balance for a wide receiver.
The 2021 NFL Draft is going to be loaded with impact talent at the wide receiver position and Bateman is going to be one of the premier guys in the class. While another season at Minnesota would likely have helped his draft stock, teams are still going to fall in love with his playmaking ability. Early opt-out or not, Rashod Bateman will be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.