Baltimore Ravens fans are still waiting for Lamar Jackson to take the next step as a passer. Here’s why rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman will help.
Lamar Jackson has been a phenomenal find for the Baltimore Ravens early in his NFL career. The former Louisville star took the NFL stage by storm with his remarkable ability to run with the football. After taking over as the starter late in his rookie season in 2018, Jackson led his team to a record of 6-1 to close out the year.
In his second season, Jackson went off for 36 touchdown passes and just 6 interceptions to go with over 1,200 rushing yards and an additional 7 touchdowns on the ground, according to Pro Football Reference. This remarkable season awarded him as the NFL MVP in just his age-22 season.
However, despite his success, many believe that Jackson needs to take the next step as a passer. In his third season in 2020, it appeared that Jackson may have taken a step backward in this department, as his yards, touchdowns, and yards per attempt all significantly decreased last year. Some have even questioned whether or not Jackson will ever become a good enough passer to compete with players like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen during playoff time.
Fortunately, there is hope. Though Jackson has had a few quality receivers in tight end Mark Andrews and deep threat, Marquise Brown, he really was lacking a true number one target. He’s hoping he found that in first-round pick, Rashod Bateman.
Why Rashod Bateman is who the Baltimore Ravens need
It seems like it has been ages since the Ravens had a receiver as high-profile as former Minnesota star, Rashod Bateman. As a sophomore in college, Bateman had 60 catches for 1,219 yards (20.3 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns.
Bateman was a remarkable college player who won from both the slot and on the outside. He can catch the ball in traffic over the middle of the field or go over the top of cornerbacks on the sidelines. Bateman was listed at 6’2” and 210 pounds prior to his 2021 Pro Day, however, it was a bit disappointing to find that he measured in at just over 6’0” and 190 pounds. Still, Bateman fooled people into believing he was bigger than he actually was because of his physical playstyle and ability to dominate at the catch point.
In addition to his college pedigree, Bateman tested as a plus athlete with good speed and explosion. While you don’t necessarily see an amazing athlete on tape, Bateman is extremely polished, and many have drawn the comparison to Chargers wide receiver, Keenan Allen.
Bateman could offer Lamar Jackson a much-needed security blanket and potential number one receiving threat he has been lacking for the first three seasons of his NFL career. Additionally, the attention he draws should only help players like Brown and Andrews in their roles.
Drafting a receiver with the 27th overall pick does not assure Lamar Jackson that he will see improvement as a passer in 2021. However, it was a necessary step in an effort to help out the young Baltimore Ravens quarterback.