The Ravens were looking to get Lamar Jackson help in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night. They didn’t need to do much to get an instant-impact wide receiver.
With the No. 27 overall pick, the Ravens took Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, one of the most productive and versatile wide receivers in college football. He was named third-team Associated Press All-American and Big Ten Conference Receiver of the Year in 2019, when he scored 11 touchdowns and ranked eighth in the FBS with 20.3 yards per catch (60 receptions for 1,219 yards).
“We watch a lot of tape on all the players. We had a chance to watch Rashod in 19. He was used a little bit differently; he was used as more of an X-receiver outside,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “We also used some analytics, and we crunched the numbers. We listen to our people. We watched his workout, and we watched his pro day. We had the chance to interview him, and he really checked off all the boxes. It was, from my perspective, a very easy pick to make.”
Last season, after contracting the coronavirus, the 6-foot, 190-pound Bateman led the team in receiving through five starts (36 receptions for 472 yards). At his pro day, he ran an unofficial time of 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash. According to Pro Football Focus, Bateman had a top-10 rate of separation over the past two seasons, and ranked first among Power Five conference receivers in yards per route run (3.74) when lined up on the outside.
“He’s going to be a guy, I think, that Lamar [Jackson] is going to love, in terms of just him getting open out there and a lot of single coverage out there – he’s going to take advantage of that,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a tough blocker.”
After an opening two hours defined by surprises at quarterback — the San Francisco 49ers took North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, the Chicago Bears traded up for Ohio State’s Justin Fields, the New England Patriots stayed put to land Alabama’s Mac Jones — the Ravens’ board started to break their way.
Three off-ball linebackers — Penn State’s Micah Parsons, Tulsa’s Zaven Collins and Kentucky’s Jamin Davis — were taken within the top 19 overall. Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood and Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney, considered fringe first-round prospects, went Nos. 17 and 20 overall, respectively. Two running backs, Alabama’s Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne, went in the top 25.
When the Ravens were on the clock, they had quality options. Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, Alabama center Landon Dickerson, Georgia edge rusher Azeez Ojulari, Penn State edge rusher Odafe Oweh and Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore, among others, were still available.
They wanted Bateman.
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“Obviously, I look up to Lamar [Jackson] a lot, just being able to get on the same field as him and being able to be his teammate and learn a lot from him,” Bateman said. “So, I’m just excited to get to work with him.”