Bateman goes No. 27 to the Baltimore Ravens in NFL draft

After a season filled with twists and turns, the Gophers standout saw his NFL dreams come to fruition late Thursday night.

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Kamaan Richards

Gophers Wide Receiver Rashod Bateman carries the ball at the 2020 Outback Bowl on Wednesday, Jan. 1. The Gophers went on to take the game 31-24 over the Auburn Tigers.

Brendan O'Brien

Gophers star receiver Rashod Bateman heard his name called Thursday night in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, being selected 27th overall by the Baltimore Ravens.

After a successful 2019 campaign, Bateman was projected to be a surefire first-round draft choice. He finished his sophomore year with 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns and added memorable and explosive plays throughout the season against South Dakota State University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Wisconsin.

But because of an unusual and less productive 2020 season along with questions about Bateman’s speed, draft evaluators and experts were no longer certain the 2019 Big Ten Receiver of the Year was worthy of a first-round grade. Bateman started the 2020 season by opting out due to health concerns amid the pandemic. Once the Big Ten made plans to restart the season in October with more protocols in place, he decided to come back for his junior season.

In the shortened season, Bateman only played in five of the team’s seven games and decided to end his Minnesota career once the Gophers had COVID-19 spread through the program. Once the draft evaluation process heated up, experts wondered about Bateman’s speed until he ran a 4.39 at the Gophers Pro Day in March. Ultimately, his 2019 performance proved more important than 2020, and Bateman landed in a spot desperate for a receiver.

Missing out on wide receivers in free agency, Baltimore had been listed as a team that needed to add playmakers at the position through the draft. Bateman will now be expected to be one of the top options for 2019-20 league MVP Lamar Jackson.

Bateman is the first Gopher to be drafted in the first round since 2006 when the New England Patriots selected running back Laurence Maroney. Following in the steps of Eric Decker and his friend and former teammate Tyler Johnson, Bateman is the third Gophers’ receiver to be drafted since 2010.