Bateman, Marshall Should Lead Packers' Draft Wish List to Help Aaron Rodgers

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 29, 2021

LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. catches a touchdown pass over Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick during the second half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Is today the day?

Is this the draft the Green Bay Packers finally use a first-round pick on a wide receiver? 

Many expected them to do exactly that with several intriguing options on the board late in Round 1 last year, but they instead invited controversy and heavy criticism by trading up to take quarterback Jordan Love. 

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn't thrilled with that move. They've yet to draft a receiver in the first round during Rodgers' 16-year tenure, and their last first-round wideout—2002 No. 20 overall pick Javon Walker—didn't play a single game with Rodgers (a first-round selection in 2005).

In fact, Rodgers has never thrown a touchdown pass to a first-round wide receiver. 

But that could soon change, because a report from ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano suggests there's interest in Minnesota product Rashod Bateman. 

Per that report, the Packers were "among teams to do a lot of research" on the former first-team All-Big Ten pass-catcher, and they've "spent time with him in the process."

Matthew Putney/Associated Press

For what it's worth, the odds at DraftKings favor Green Bay drafting a receiver over an offensive lineman or a cornerback, although all should be considered needs and they do have a special No. 1 wideout in Davante Adams. 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard have lacked consistency in support of Adams, though, and there's very little depth beyond that. 

Enter Bateman? It makes sense because the Packers pick 29th overall and he's generally considered one of the top receivers in the tier below potential top-10 selections Ja'Marr Chase of LSU and Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith of Alabama. 

That said, Bateman could easily go off the board well before the Packers are on the clock. In fact, the final big board from the B/R NFL Scouting Department ranks him above both Chase and Waddle. 

Nathan Marzion @nathanmarzion

Here's Aaron Rodgers throwing to a few potential rookie receivers next year 👀 https://t.co/9DIoai4452

What other pass-catching options might Green Bay have late in Round 1? Let's look at Bateman and seven other wideouts the B/R NFL Scouting Department ranks in the top 60 overall (B/R big board rankings in brackets).


Bateman (9th)

The key is the 21-year-old runs extremely crisp and reliable routes, because Rodgers won't tolerate anything short of that. Bateman is also quite polished, which is critical considering that the Packers are reaching the point of "now or never."

His 2020 campaign was derailed due in part to the pandemic, but the 6'0", 190-pounder did average 20.3 yards per catch for the Golden Gophers in 2019. That ability to stretch the field as an outside receiver from the get-go could make him an ideal complement to Adams. 


Elijah Moore, Mississippi (31st)

Moore can do a little bit of everything. He's a catch machine coming off three increasingly productive seasons in the best conference in college football. Unlike Bateman, he finished strong in 2020. And he would bring a much-needed speed element to the Green Bay receiving corps. 

Moore's a very different player than Bateman but would still provide something very different than Adams. Still, he's only 5'9", 178 pounds, and he could struggle to find an immediate role right at that size.  


Dyami Brown, North Carolina (33rd)

Brown's game resembles Bateman's in a lot of ways. They're about the same size (Brown is 6'1", 189 pounds) and both were tremendous deep threats in college despite good-not-great speed. He averaged 20.1 yards per reception during his last two seasons at UNC. 

That said, some more technical development may be required, especially because he's unlikely to consistently win over the top immediately. The 21-year-old might require more time than Bateman, which isn't ideal for Rodgers and the Packers. 


Rondale Moore, Purdue (38th)

Bill Huber of SI.com's Packer Central notes that the Packers haven't selected a receiver shorter than 5'10" in any of the past 16 drafts, which doesn't bode well for either of the Moores but the 5'7" Rondale in particular. 

Yet, Moore arguably makes up for his lack of size with his punchy strength and his 4.3 speed. He'll never be a consistent winner on the boundary but that explosiveness differentiates him from every receiver above and you get the feeling Matt LaFleur and Rodgers would take advantage of that in every way possible. 

It appears there's interest, and it's easy to see why. But questions about his size and durability could scare the Pack away. 


Terrace Marshall Jr., LSU (39th)

Marshall could require some development when it comes to focus and blocking, but there's so much to like about him that it's easy to convince yourself he can catch up quickly in a highly supportive offense like Green Bay's. Rodgers, Adams and LaFleur can make life easier than most on a wideout, and they could squeeze a lot out of Marshall early. 

Michael Woods/Associated Press

Marshall runs a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at 6'3", 205 pounds, which differentiates him from even Bateman among the second-tier options at the receiver position. And it's not as though he's utterly raw coming off back-to-back double-digit-touchdown campaigns in the SEC. 

He's also got strong hands and is versatile enough to take reps in the slot if LaFleur wants to get creative or loses confidence in his ability to hang on the boundary early on. Regardless, he feels a lot like a prototypical Green Bay receiver without being an Adams clone. 


Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State (52nd)

He isn't particularly big (5'11", 193 pounds) or particularly fast (he runs the 40 in the 4.5 range), but Wallace doesn't do anything poorly. He's tough, dynamic, versatile and polished enough to make an immediate difference on the boundary and in the red zone. 

His ceiling might not be as high as most of the players listed here, but that's OK when you're looking for a complementary weapon for Adams and breakout tight end Robert Tonyan. 

Still, he's more of a mystery after facing a lot of lackluster defenses in college and few have him going off the board in Round 1. The Packers might be better off hoping he falls to them in the No. 62 spot. 


Amari Rodgers, Clemson (59th)

Make this happen and bring back Richard Rodgers so that Aaron Rodgers is throwing to Rodgers and Rodgers, just because that would be chaotic and fun. 

But seriously, Amari Rodgers would be a strong fit as a slot presence right off the bat in Green Bay. He said so himself last month when he stated that being drafted in the second round by the Packers is his dream scenario

Coming off an increasingly effective four-year run in a strong Clemson program, the 5'9", 212-pounder could be a factor in multiple roles right away. But his height, lack of top-end speed and overall profile likely mean he's a second-rounder. 


Kadarius Toney, Florida (60th)

One of the most dynamic receivers in this class, Toney is simply a playmaker coming off a 10-touchdown season in the SEC. Both durability and early production could be a concern for a player who scored just three times in his first three seasons with the Gators. 

Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

Using a first-round pick on a slot receiver with extremely limited tape is quite a risk in a draft that is expected to be loaded with quality options on Day 2. 

Still, his tantalizing ability with the ball in his hands makes him an ideal fit for the Green Bay offense. If Bateman and Marshall are off the board at 29, they'd have to consider him as well as both Moores. 


What should the strategy be?

If the Packers don't go with a receiver in Round 1, that likely leaves them out of the conversation for Bateman, Marshall, both Moores and Toney. But I'm not sure I'd use a first-rounder on either of the Moores, while the gap between Bateman and Marshall is very small, maybe even nonexistent.

They ought to target whoever is available between those two late in Round 1, and if that fails, they should work to position themselves for Wallace or Rodgers in Round 2. 

That said, Bateman's stock appears to be higher than Marshall's, and there's a good chance he's taken ahead of Green Bay by the Washington Football Team at 19 or the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens or New Orleans Saints in the 20s.

My best guess? If the Packers are dead set on taking a receiver in Round 1, they wind up with Terrace Marshall Jr.


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Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @Brad_Gagnon.