Though there will be a new set of questions about Rashod Bateman's size after he weighed in at 190 pounds during the Gophers' pro day on Thursday, he likely extinguished whatever doubts remained about his long speed.
The wide receiver again ran the 40-yard dash in less than 4.4 seconds on Thursday, clocking a 4.39 as measured by the Gophers. Scouts in the Gophers' indoor practice facility timed Bateman between 4.35 and 4.45 seconds, with many landing around 4.39 or 4.40.
Bateman posted on his Twitter page on Feb. 27 that he'd run a laser-timed 40 of 4.39 seconds while training at EXOS in Arizona. Though hand-timed figures are less accurate, the fact he matched the time while running in front of NFL scouts on Thursday likely helped him earn their trust.
Eager for the day to start, Bateman was up before sunrise and planned to get to the Gophers' practice facility as soon as he could. He posted a broad jump of 10 feet, 3 inches and a vertical leap of 36 inches — numbers that would have put him in the range of what the Vikings' Justin Jefferson did last year — while flashing his crisp route-running skills in front of a group that included more than 50 evaluators, including Packers GM Brian Gutekunst and Titans GM Jon Robinson.
"I'm excited," he said. "I feel like I came out here and performed at my best. I ran fast; everybody doubted that. Now everybody's questioning my weight. The thing is, I've never played over 200 [pounds] before, and I never have been close, so I'm not worried about that. … I'm exhausted right now, so that means I did everything the right way."
Bateman and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste were the main attractions at a Gophers pro day that drew 31 of the NFL's 32 teams, according to player personnel director Marcus Hendrickson. Bateman ran drills conducted by Panthers receivers coach Frisman Jackson and Bears receivers coach Mike Furrey.
St-Juste ran the 40 in 4.51 seconds, according to the Gophers, while posting a broad jump of 9 feet, 11 inches and a vertical leap of 34 ½ inches. The 6-foot-3, 202-pound defensive back landed awkwardly on a couple of broad jump attempts, and said afterward he regretted not wearing cleats to help him stick his landing, but said overall, he "felt like I showed what I needed to show."
"A lot of scouts were impressed with my speed, how quick I can be," St-Juste said. "That was a big question for me as a tall corner: Can you be quick? I feel like I could've been better in certain areas, but it is what it is. Now it's time to go play ball."
The pro day might have taken on extra importance for the two prospects, given that the coronavirus pandemic wiped out this year's NFL combine and meant Bateman and St-Juste wouldn't be able to show their athletic ability during tests on a big stage. It also was important for players like former Minnesota State Mankato receiver Shane Zylstra and former St. John's quarterback Jackson Erdmann, who impressed several evaluators with his fluid delivery and placement on downfield throws.
Bateman, who's ranked by many analysts as the draft's No. 4 receiver, is trying to get into the first round after opting out of the Gophers' season for a second time on Nov. 25. The Packers, who hold the No. 30 overall pick, are believed to be one of the teams most interested in Bateman, who has attracted interest from the Panthers, Titans, Bears and Washington, among others. Shortly after he finished his workout, Vikings scouts grabbed him to take a Wonderlic test.
He'll return to Arizona next week, where he's been training with players like Odell Beckham and D.K. Metcalf, and hope all the work means he'll hear his name called in the first round on April 29.