A first-round wide receiver.
Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said Monday that he feels the Packers would have taken Rashod Bateman with the No. 29 overall pick in this year’s draft, if the Ravens hadn’t selected him two spots earlier.
Hortiz is a good friend of Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and stood next to him during Bateman’s pro day at the University of Minnesota. In fact, Gutekunst drove Hortiz to the pro day and then to the airport afterward.
"Certainly, we knew [the Packers] liked him and a lot of teams like Rashod,” Hortiz said during an hour-long session breaking down film of the team’s eight draft picks. "We don’t know for certain, but you do try to pay attention to, ‘OK, the GMs were at this pro day’ — especially this year because the GMs weren’t able to get out and see players. Brian is going to look at players that he was interested in.”
This type of strategy was huge for how Baltimore was going to handle its two first-round picks. In addition to the 27th overall selection, the Ravens acquired the No. 31 pick from the Kansas City Chiefs in the Orlando Brown Jr. trade.
Baltimore felt it had to take Bateman at No. 27 because the chances were small that he would get past Green Bay and still be available with the No. 31 selection.
Hortiz said the Ravens do their homework on how much interest other teams show in certain prospects. Baltimore will take note of which general managers and head coaches are present at pro days and which teams’ position coaches work out players.
"We try to give Eric [DeCosta, Ravens GM] all the information that we can get at a pro day (and) at a school visit,” Hortiz said.
Leading up to the draft, ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler reported that the Packers were doing “a lot of research” on Bateman and spent time with him in the process.
The Packers ultimately chose cornerback Eric Stokes in the first round and went with wide receiver Amari Rodgers in the third round. Amari Rodgers is the son of Ravens wide receivers coach Tee Martin.
The last time Green Bay drafted a wide receiver in the first round was Javon Walker in 2002.
Not all of the Ravens' officials thought Bateman would last to the bottom of the first round. Bateman led all Power Five receivers in yards per route run (3.74) when lined up on the outside, according to Pro Football Focus.
"I was surprised that he was there when we were able to pick,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "It was a great pick by [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and his staff. I think the thing that hits my brain is 'right place, right time' when I think about Rashod Bateman here with the Ravens, because I think he brings a style that’s really going to complement the guys that are here right now.”
Bateman’s pro day played a big factor in Baltimore taking him in the first round. The Ravens were limited in seeing Bateman first-hand at games because of the pandemic.
So, watching how Bateman excelled in his wide receiver drills really impressed Hortiz.
“When I came out of the pro day, I called Eric and John [Harbaugh, Ravens coach]: 'You got to watch his pro day,'" Hortiz said. "You can definitely feel his speed. With him, you really felt it — his ability to get in and out [of cuts] and show that twitch and strength that can transition into the burst and explosion. Certainly the pro day helped.”