Finally living up to his potential doesn’t have to be a long journey for Rashod Bateman, but the Baltimore Ravens’ first-round pick in 2021 has to “lock in.” That’s the message from former Ravens’ wide receiver Mark Clayton.
Speaking to Kevin Oestreicher on the “Locked on Ravens” podcast, Clayton urged Bateman to “put your head down and go to work.”
It’s a blunt message to a wideout who hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he’s capable of since entering the pros as the 27th player selected in the 2021 NFL draft. Clayton has called on Bateman to practice good habits: “Ultimately, it comes down to performance, and performance comes from practice and all the work that you do before you step on the field, Sunday.”
Clayton, who was a first-round pick of the Ravens in 2005, knows what he’s talking about. There are shades of Clayton’s own stunted career in Baltimore in the way Bateman has struggled to develop.
Mark Clayton Knows How Rashod Bateman Can Get Better
Tallying just 243 receptions in five seasons, made Clayton something of a draft flop for the Ravens. Bateman is in danger of going the same way, with Clayton acknowledging the 23-year-old’s “performance hasn’t been what we’ve hoped for, what we’ve expected out of a first-round receiver.”
Bateman’s talent for stretching the field is obvious, but he’s struggled to stay free of injuries. When he has played, Bateman has let too many passes get away.
Bateman’s injury woes and lapses in concentration have been compounded by the Ravens restocking the cupboard at receiver in the offseason. The overhaul began when Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor arrived in free agency, before Zay Flowers was taken 22nd overall in this year’s draft.
One unlikely member of that trio is clearly outplaying Bateman.
Rashod Bateman Being Outplayed By Unheralded Veteran
Bateman should be the deep threat the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson need. Instead, No. 7 is averaging a mere 8.2 yards per reception with a long catch of just 18 yards so far this season, per Pro Football Reference.
Those numbers are being put to shame by Agholor, who is playing for his fourth team since 2018. The former Philadelphia Eagles, Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots burner is providing the vertical element needed in a more expansive passing game designed by offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
Agholor did have his own costly drop against the Steelers, but his mistake wasn’t magnified like Bateman’s because the veteran is producing more in this new-look offense. It’s another timely reminder to Bateman about the harsh realities of life in the NFL.
If he can’t adjust to those realities this year, Bateman is likely to find himself looking for a new team next offseason, because the Ravens no longer need him.