In today’s NFL and college football communities, most people are now focused on the next players that are going to opt-out of the 2020 seasons. At first, the biggest name to opt-out so far was Chiefs running back, Damien Williams, paving the way for fantasy football players to crave Clyde Edwards-Helaire shares for their teams. Of course, NFL players aren’t the only ones opting out.
Just a few short days after the perceived number one cornerback in the 2021 draft opted out in Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, another first-round prospect, Minnesota receiver, Rashod Bateman has announced that he will be opting out of the 2020 college football season. In a video Bateman posted on Tuesday morning, he announced his intentions of not playing during this season and that he was declaring for the 2021 NFL draft.
Wishing well❤️ pic.twitter.com/fxV1FI7r7o
— Rashod Bateman (@R_bateman2) August 4, 2020
Following a 2019 season where he was awarded the Big Ten Receiver of the Year after he had 1,219 yards on 60 catches and 12 touchdowns. Bateman also earned first-team all big-ten honors. Heading into the 2020 season, I had Bateman listed as my top receiver for the 2021 NFL draft that features a receiving class that is as good, if not better than the 2020 crop.
In a stacked receiving class, Bateman has opted to let pro teams key-in on two years of his tape instead of risking his health and well-being. He is a great receiver who has plenty of eye-opening catches and can separate from defenders once the ball is in his hands. Even with Tyler Johnson alongside him with the Gophers, Bateman was the number one receiver on Minnesota’s potent offense. With Johnson being selected in the fifth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year, Bateman was set to have an even better year. Now with his decision to opt-out, he turns his attention to the 2021 draft where he will likely still be a first-round selection.
The Gophers, coming off of an 11-2 season last year under P.J. Fleck, were poised to make a run at the Big-Ten title and potentially were a dark horse for the College Football Playoffs. Minnesota would’ve fought with Wisconsin and Iowa for the Big-Ten West title, as well as Ohio State and Penn State for the overall Big-Ten Championship. Now with Johnson and star safety, Antoine Winfield Jr on the Buccaneers and Bateman’s opt-out, Minnesota will have to rely on a bevy of new faces this year.
With Bateman and Johnson now gone, Quarterback, Tanner Morgan will need to show that he still has it as many saw him as a potential riser in the draft process following a redshirt sophomore season where he had over 3,200 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, all while completing 66 percent of his passes. Morgan has been a sneaky late first-round pick in mock drafts and excels in short-yardage work but can sling it down the field when needed. Taking Bateman’s spot will likely be Junior, Chris Autumn-Bell. He had 371 yards and five touchdowns last year on 28 catches. Demetrius Douglas, another Junior, will likely hold another starting slot, while four-star recruit, Daniel Jackson could play a key role earlier than expected.
Fleck and Morgan now have to prove that they can win without their two top receivers from the 2019 season. More importantly, Morgan needs to show he can still improve his draft stock without those two. Bateman’s stock doesn’t take a hit as he was already a likely first-round pick, even as high as the third overall pick in some mock drafts. With Farley and now Bateman opting out, it shouldn’t be a surprise if more 2021 draft prospects decide to not play the 2020 season and could be the new trend, similar to not playing in bowl games to prepare for the draft.
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