Apparently, the Los Angeles Rams love taking receivers with the 57th pick in the NFL Draft. A year after drafting receiver Van Jefferson in that exact same draft position, the Rams decided to use their first pick one someone virtually no one outside the Malibu resort war room was expecting — wide receiver Tutu Atwell out of Louisville.
Immediately after the pick was made, many fans took to social media platforms to voice their frustrations. After not having a first round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, how could the Rams come to the conclusion that Atwell was the best choice?
Why Did Rams Draft Tutu Atwell in Round 2?
According to scout Billy Johnson, the answer was simple: “The explosiveness of speed, I think, is legit. This guy can erase angles. These traits, they’ll translate to the league if you can get the ball in his hands.” There is no question that Atwell is fast. Really fast. At his pro day, Atwell ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds, one of the fastest times for his position in this year’s crop of receivers. Not only that, the speedy receiver has good hands and is by all indications an extremely hard worker. During his sophomore season in 2019, Atwell finished with 70 receptions for 1,276 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wide receivers coach Eric Yarber is excited to bring Atwell into the receiver fold.
Also, many fans are starting to come around as well. Standing at only 5-9, 155 pounds, many Rams fans speculated aloud what Atwell’s role might be with the team. He has drawn comparisons to DeSean Jackson, a player the Rams recently signed in free agency. Some took to Twitter and other social media outlets to question the logic behind having “two DeSean Jacksons” on the team.
Although the two players seem to fill the same void within the offense, with the veteran presence of Jackson on the roster, Atwell should be able to soak up invaluable lessons under Jackson’s tutelage, which will no doubt aid him in the long run. With the Rams already booked with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Jackson and Jefferson on the roster, Atwell will most likely take a back seat his first year. But according to the Rams’ brass, the team has big plans for him in the future.
Looking At the Rams’ Long-term Goals for Atwell
Director of Scouting Strategy James Gladstone revealed as much when questioned about the Atwell selection: “The decision to select him was not just thinking simply in the short term, but also envisioning three seasons from now. Tutu walks into a situation where he’s able to team up with one of the most electric deep-threat wide receivers over the last decade in DeSean Jackson, who he shares many of the same qualities with. Premier perimeter player with A1 acceleration and the ability to threaten each level of the defense.”
If Atwell transforms into the receiver the Rams are planning on him becoming, he could be a nightmare for defenses and a reliable threat for Matthew Stafford to lean on. Atwell has the ability to take short passes in the slot and turn them into long runs after-the-catch or to the end zone. Head coach Sean McVay was on the record singing the praises of Atwell after the selection was made and believes that Stafford to Atwell will be a mainstay in the Rams offense going forward: “You know what, this will be a big deal. So I think being able to add him will really provide some of that explosiveness, you get another playmaker for Stafford, so I think that’ll be huge.”
Watch any game tape of Tutu Atwell and the thing that will first jump out at you is his speed. But, as mentioned before, it’s what the Louisville alum is able to do after he gets the ball in his hand that should make him an eventual cornerstone in the McVay offense. Although many fans complained about the Rams not addressing more pressing needs in the NFL Draft with their first Day 2 selection, Atwell is no Tavon Austin, and over time he could quickly develop into a focal point for the offense.
Now that he has his official jersey number (15), it’s time for Rams fans to welcome Atwell with open arms and get excited about the slew of possibilities a player of his caliber can bring to the team.