As speculation mounted about what the Baltimore Ravens might do with their two first-round picks, wide receiver was on the top of everyone’s mind.
With Marquise “Hollywood” Brown the only Ravens receiver to top 500 yards receiving in 2020, it was clear that more weapons were needed at the position for quarterback Lamar Jackson. But the question remained: Would the Ravens use one of their first-round picks to get a star or wait until later rounds like they’ve done in the past with Myles Boykin and Devin Duvernay?
Both turned out to be true. The Ravens selected Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace in the fourth round. But Bateman is the headliner, and after being selected, he had a clear message for Baltimore fans.
“I’m really excited and ready to get to work,” Bateman said on Glenn Clark Radio on May 2. “I think we could do really special things in the future.”
The 6-foot, 190-pound Bateman became the second wide receiver the Ravens have selected in the first round in three years (Brown, 2019). The fit in the Charm City was clear for Bateman. Despite there being 31 other teams that could have picked the standout wideout, Bateman said he had a feeling that he would end up a Raven.
“For some reason Baltimore was in my gut,” Bateman said, “and look how it turned out.”
Bateman ranked as the fourth best receiver in the 2021 draft class according to Pro Football Focus. During three years with the Golden Gophers (2018-2020), Bateman tallied 147 receptions for 2,395 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. Bateman broke the school record for freshman receiving yards in 2018 (704) and sophomore receiving yards in 2019 (1,219). Bateman earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2019 and third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2020 despite playing just five games in the latter season.
Bateman was listed by Minnesota at 6-foot-2 but measured in a shade taller than 6-foot at his pro day. Bateman said his production at Minnesota proved his height isn’t an issue.
“I think it all starts with the mindset. Having confidence in yourself,” Bateman said, “At the end of the day, it’s not about how big you are, how fast you are. You’ve just got to put your head down and go to work.”
One thing Ravens fans can expect from Bateman is his “realist” attitude. When Bateman last spoke to Glenn Clark Radio March 5, he was honest about his need to improve his blocking skills, even at a time where many draft prospects will try to market themselves as elite in all facets of the position.
Now that he is with the Ravens and in an offense that led the league in amount of run plays run last season, this is something that Bateman will have to do consistently throughout each game. The Tifton, Ga., native is very aware of this and knows this will be something the Ravens will push him to do from the second he walks into the team facility.
“There’s a lot of stuff I’ve got to get better in, just focusing on everything,” Bateman said. “But blocking, it’s definitely something that I need to work on and I know the Baltimore staff will get me prepared for whatever I need to be prepared for.”
As Bateman started to adjust to his new reality of being an NFL player on draft night, new teammates Brown, Jackson and Marlon Humphrey were very excited to welcome him to the Ravens.
Bateman shares that same excitement.
“It definitely feels good to have them want me to be part of the organization,” Bateman said. “I’m excited to get to work with those guys so I can meet them all.”
And as Bateman makes the transition to the pros, he shares the same clear vision his new teammates have going into the 2021 season.
“At this point,” Bateman said, “we’re just chasing a ring.”
For more from Bateman, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the University of Minnesota