As the 2021 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots’ radar or that we feel would be a great fit.
The Patriots have a huge need at wide receiver coming into the 2021 season. Simply put they have no one that will keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. There is no one on the roster who offers yards-after-catch YAC.
Currently, the players on the roster include Julien Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Marquise Lee with Devin Smith, Isaiah Zuber, and Kristian Wilkerson signed to a futures contract.
Edelman will be 35 in 2021 and as great a player as he’s been for the Patriots, it is getting time to look elsewhere, especially for a player who carries more than a $6 million dollar cap hit. Lee never played a down for the team as he opted out due to the coronavirus. Meyers turned into a legitimate target but offers very little in YAC.
The Patriots need a huge influx of speed and athleticism to the position and make things a bit easier on their QB, whoever that is in 2021. They have money to spend in free agency but until the QB situation is settled, with a minimum of having a bridge QB, it will be hard to attract good free agent WRs to New England. So, we’ll take a look at the draft and who, if they are willing would be available in Round 1.
Earlier we looked at Florida WR Kadarius Toney, today we’ll take a look at another possible option.
Rashod Bateman, WR from Minnesota, has a chance to be the first Minnesota player drafted in the first round since 2006 when the Patriots selected RB Lawrence Maroney.
Bateman was a four-star recruit but didn’t get a lot of interest from the big football powers. However, after signing with Minnesota, he immediately made a splash as a freshman catching 51 passes for 704 yards and 6 TDs. He followed that up with a 60 catch 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns sophomore season that put him on teams’ radars. In just five games in 2020, he produced 36 catches, 472 yards, and 2 TDs.
He has an excellent blend of route-running savvy, competitive toughness, and ball skills for an outside wide receiver. He makes sharp cuts, has excellent hands, and while he doesn’t possess great speed, his YAC (yards-after-catch) is impressive due to very good agile moves, excellent balance, and strength after contact.
He has a good frame at 6’2, 210 that will easily take him filling out a bit at the next level. And his ability to catch the ball in traffic will have a lot of teams looking at him as a go-to guy in the passing offense. He projects to be an outstanding red-zone target in the NFL.
– Excellent route-runner, with sharp cuts
– Versatile, can line up outside, in the slot
– Excellent hands and ability to catch contested balls
– YAC is outstanding due to agility, toughness, balance
– Doesn’t have elite speed
– Needs to pack on a little bit more muscle on his frame
– Can be a bit too physical downfield
What his Role Will Be:
Bateman should immediately step into a starting role as a short/intermediate WR
Will His Role Change from Year 1-2?
Yes, as he gets more muscle on his frame and gets comfortable in the offense, he will turn into the go-to guy to keep the chains moving downfield
How Many Downs Can He Play?
What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?
Damiere Byrd who is a free agent
What is his ST Value?
Bateman is another fun player to watch. As we said earlier, he won’t blow anyone away with his speed but his moves at the line of scrimmage, especially his double-moves will gain him separation from press-man coverage.
He also shows (importantly BTW), excellent instincts when the play breaks down and the QB is forced out of the pocket, and breaking back toward the line and finding open spots. He is used to and thrives in running in those middle of the field dangerous places but accelerates as he catches the ball and is tough to bring down with his agility and strength after contact.
NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout, had some pretty excellent comparisons for what Bateman’s potential can be.
“ I see some similarities to Michael Thomas when he was coming out of Ohio State. Both guys have an ideal blend of size and strength. They have the versatility to play outside or in the slot. Thomas has emerged as one of the premier players at his position. He’s a high-volume pass catcher and his win rate on third downs is outstanding. If Bateman can land with the right quarterback, he could make a similar impact.”
A highlight film for Bateman, from Charlie Parker can be seen here:
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Draft
Tags: Bill Belichick Damiere Byrd Gunner Olszewski Jakobi Meyers Julian Edelman N'Keal Harry New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots wide receivers Rashod Bateman