The primary focus this offseason for the K.C. Chiefs is assumed to be on the trenches. Both the offensive and defensive lines are in need of significant attention, and both free agency and the upcoming first-year player draft will afford them the chance to restock at key areas of need. But a new mock draft from Trevor Sikkema of The Draft Network has the Chiefs using their biggest pick on another dynamic playmaker for Patrick Mahomes to throw at.
Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman is the selection of choice for the Chiefs at no. 31 overall in Sikkema’s latest mock draft. It’s a pick sure to displease the lion’s share of Chiefs Kingdom at this point since the position attached to Bateman is not “offensive lineman” or “defensive end,” but Bateman’s skill set is the sort of missing piece that kept the Chiefs from looking as dominant as they did in 2019 when Sammy Watkins was healthy and productive down the stretch.
The Chiefs already have the offensive core intact heading into another season with perennial Pro Bowl performers like Tyreek Hill at wideout and Travis Kelce at tight end. The team is also expecting a major leap forward in the usage and effectiveness of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was the team’s first-round selection a year ago. Mecole Hardman is also in tow, and Damien Williams and Darrel Williams both could return to the backfield. Still, Sikkema writes:
"With Bateman in the group, they can complement and fully round out their receiver room with one of the best slot receivers who brings some of the most nuanced route-running ability in the class. The biggest knock on Bateman is his speed—although his recent 40 time might assuage some concerns—but the Chiefs don’t need him to have speed. They can love him just as he is—and appropriately so."
In only five games for the Gophers this season, Bateman had 36 catches for 472 yards and 2 touchdowns and was named third-team All Big Ten after the season. This came after a breakout year in 2019 when he caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns and turned heads of NFL scouts and general managers coast-to-coast. Earlier this year, Bateman opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 when the entire college football season was in question, but he returned when it was clear the Big Ten would play again.
A new mock draft has the K.C. Chiefs drafting Rashod Bateman.
For the Chiefs, the drafting of Bateman would be a key asset for the present and the future of the team. Bateman has been the featured receiver for quite some time and looks comfortable in the role even if he’s not decorated as a player with world-class speed. He’s a well-rounded athlete who is pro-ready with his well-honed technique, toughness, and route-running, so he’d become an immediate threat on the field for the Chiefs in 2021. However, he would also give them a primary target in years to come if/when Hill ever hits a wall or becomes injured.
The idea of Bateman in this offense sounds great (as in impossible to defend). However, it also means the Chiefs are investing a bit less in the trenches shortly after a loss when a lack of resources there cost them dearly. It will be interesting to see whether the Chiefs’ front office agrees with its fan base or whether they have a different way forward in mind. If so, Bateman could be a part of that.