The Baltimore Ravens have used a series of first round picks on wide receivers over the years. Rashod Bateman is one of the more recent ones. Bateman was selected out of Minnesota by the Ravens with the 27th pick in the 2021 draft. The third-year receiver is gaining confidence after a rough start to his career.
The expected impact from a first-round player was limited by injuries over the first two seasons. Bateman started his career on injured reserve before being activated in October 2021.
In Week 14, Bateman recorded his first 100-yard game catching seven passes for 103 yards in a 22–24 loss against the Cleveland Browns. In Week 16 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Bateman scored his first NFL touchdown on a 4-yard pass from Josh Johnson in the 41-21 loss. He finished with 46 receptions for 515 receiving yards and one touchdown in 12 games.
Baltimore traded 2019 first-round receiver Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals before 2022, opening the door for Bateman to start. In a Week 2 42/-38 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Bateman recorded 108 receiving yards on four catches, including one catch that he took 75 yards for a touchdown.
Bateman injured his foot the following week and missed the next two games. Bateman returned against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but left in the second quarter with a foot injury. On November 3, 2022, it was announced Bateman will undergo surgery on his foot, ending his season. He finished with 15 receptions for 285 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in six games.
The Ravens revamped their receiver group before this season causing Bateman to compete with 2023 first round pick Zay Flowers and free agent additions Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor for playing time. Bateman has 14 catches for 152 yards in seven games this season. His biggest impact can in last week’s 31-24 win over the Cardinals.
“Rashod [Bateman] had two big plays. The early catch, to keep the drive alive, to go get the ball and take it away from the defender, was just … You’re not going to see a better play than that,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said.
“Then the end around, it was actually a jet sweep. I’ll tell you, when he turned the corner and accelerated up the sideline, that was impressive, wasn’t it? He ran by a couple guys, and he really showed some burst there and got up the sideline. They actually hit him out of bounds [which] got us another 15 [yards], so it was a huge play in the game that ran time off the clock, got us down [the field] deeper and got us another score.”
Bateman has always had the ability. His biggest problem was a lack of availability due to injury. Now that he’s healthy, Bateman is able to work towards being a steady contributor.
“It’s the fact that he’s been able to stack practices now and get a feel in the offense and catch balls and run routes and compete for balls,” Harbaugh said. “Football is a practice sport. The more you practice, the better you get, and the better feel you get for the game, all of those different things. I would say it’s just starting to kind of come together for him that way.”
Harbaugh added that he sees things starting to come together for Bateman and hopes the second half of the season will be big for him. The Ravens need another receiver to step up down the stretch. It’s a perfect opportunity for Bateman to give the Ravens a return on their first-round investment.