Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who will be a junior in the fall, has received early hype for the 2021 NFL Draft. He made ESPN commentator Mel Kiper’s Top 25 prospects list on Tuesday morning.
Bateman came in at No. 8; he was the second receiver on the list behind LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, who was rated No. 4.
If Bateman goes in the top 10 next spring, he would be the Gophers’ highest pick since defensive end Aaron Brown went seventh to Kansas City — in the AFL draft in 1966.
Kiper said, “Bateman was a yards-after-catch dynamo last season. … At 6-foot-2 with long arms, he has the length to go and get the ball in traffic. He tracks the ball well on deep throws. He has great hands.”
Bateman was eighth in the country last season with an average of 20.3 yards per reception and tied for 19th with 11 touchdown grabs. With 60 receptions, he was the Big Ten’s receiver of the year in 2019. Fellow Gophers receiver Tyler Johnson also put up big numbers before he was drafted by Tampa Bay in the fifth round of last month’s NFL draft.
Kiper’s praise for current Gophers extends to quarterback Tanner Morgan. Kiper told Pioneer Press columnist Charley Walters last month that Minnesota’s redshirt junior-to-be QB is potentially a future starter in the NFL.
“He’s got good pocket presence, throws a nice, catchable ball, and he’s accurate,” Kiper said. “And he’s a leader.”
Kiper rated Morgan as his fifth-best quarterback in next year’s class, with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence the top overall prospect. The rest of the top 5 quarterbacks were Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, of Marshall, Minn., and Georgia’s Jamie Newman.