Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Saturday he was impressed with the performance of wide receiver Rashod Bateman during the team's rookie minicamp.
Harbaugh told reporters Bateman, the No. 27 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, lived up to their initial expectations after a standout collegiate career at the University of Minnesota:
"Impressions are very positive. He's a no-nonsense guy, has a nice demeanor about him. He's a quick learner. He's everything we thought he would be in terms of the athleticism, the skill set. That's usually the case, but not always the case. What you see is not always what you get. You don't know until you get them out there, in really the first rookie minicamp. And I would say that he is as advertised from a talent standpoint."
One of the biggest questions of Baltimore's offseason was whether it would add a big-play wide receiver to help quarterback Lamar Jackson in the passing game.
While the front office signed Sammy Watkins in free agency, a series of injuries has prevented the 2014 fourth overall pick from living up to his potential in the NFL. So the team also added Bateman in the draft to further upgrade the receiving corps.
The 21-year-old Georgia native was a force across three years with the Golden Gophers. He recorded 147 catches for 2,395 yards and 19 touchdowns in 31 college games.
"I'm looking forward to playing with Lamar," Bateman said last week. "I've seen the offense over the past years. I'm excited what this offense can do. I'm just happy to be a part of this offense. I feel like it's very explosive. I just feel like we can continue to go to higher heights."
He'll have an opportunity to earn an expansive role right away. Wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and tight end Mark Andrews will likely be the top targets, but beyond that it'll be a competition between Bateman, Watkins, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and others.
Bateman's versatility in being able to play either on the outside or in the slot gives him an edge in the fight for snaps among the large group of wideouts.
The rookie should receive ample opportunities to prove himself throughout training camp and the preseason, and don't be surprised if he earns a starting role heading into the Ravens' Week 1 game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 13.