Packers Rumors: Rashod Bateman Linked; GB Has Done 'A Lot of Research' on WR

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman (0) during an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Minneapolis. Iowa won 35-7. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers have reportedly done "a lot of research" on Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman ahead of the 2021 NFL draft, which starts Thursday night.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano reported Wednesday the Packers "spent time" with Bateman during the predraft process, which suggests he could be a target with the No. 29 overall pick in the first round.

Bateman was one of college football's top wideouts over the past three years, recording 147 catches for 2,395 yards with 19 touchdowns across 31 appearances. He averaged more than seven receptions per game during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

The 21-year-old Georgia native has flown under the radar because of the strong receiver class led by LSU's Ja'Marr Chase and Alabama teammates DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, but he could make an immediate impact.

Bateman possesses a 6'0", 190-pound frame with NFL-level route-running ability, reliable hands and the ability to make plays at every level of the field. He hasn't shown he's a consistent game-breaker like Chase, Smith and Waddle, but he has the tools to become a No. 1 wideout.

"I've proven that and I've put it on tape," Bateman said of his versatility in March. "Very detailed route-runner. I can catch the ball very well and I am fast, even though some people doubt that."

Being able to play on the outside or in the slot creates extra paths to playing right away at the next level.

The Packers are an obvious fit in the latter stages of the first round. They have their top target in Davante Adams, but they've struggled to find other dependable weapons for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Bateman would compete with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Devin Funchess and Equanimeous St. Brown, and he'd have a realistic chance of becoming a Week 1 starter.

However, another interested front office might aim to leapfrog the Packers in the draft order if Bateman is available in the final stages of Round 1.

Receivers Elijah Moore of Ole Miss and Kadarius Toney of Florida are also likely to come off the board in the second half of the opening round and could make sense for Green Bay.