Do the LA Rams have gold or fool’s gold in WR Tutu Atwell?
By Bret Stuter
The debate over LA Rams second-year wide receiver Tutu Atwell has been all over the board this off-season. I don’t think I am overstating the fact that his rookie season, generating nothing offensively, minimal looks on special teams, and ending prematurely was a disappointment to everyone concerned. I don’t believe that he was a bust. Nor do I believe that some good looks in shorts and tee-shirts ensure that he is a future NFL Pro-Bowler.
He could contribute this year. He could be a fizzle too.
We noted early in training camp that ESPN’s Sarah Bishop projected Tutu Atwell as the team’s WR3 this year. Right now, he is arguably one injury away from being promoted to that spot on the team’s roster.
Let’s be honest. Atwell has done just about anything and everything that can be expected from him to perform well in OTAs and in training camp. Like this play:
Still, despite the fact that almost all of the rhetoric and reporting on Atwell coming out of the Rams training camp has been so positive, how much of a role do the Rams have in their offense for him to secure?
We conducted a thought exercise on that very topic more than a week ago. In that discussion, we compared Atwell’s upside to that of veteran WR DeSean Jackson. If Atwell matches the role set for DJax in 2021, he could end the season with 400 yards and a couple of touchdowns.
Good, but no weo.
I don’t want to sound like a guy raining on the Tutu Atwell parade. He is the type of player whose style of play is a good change of pace to what the LA Rams are doing. But he is not big enough nor strong enough to fill the role of Cooper Kupp or Allen Robinson. So his utility in the Rams’ offensive playbook will be a specific subset of plays that feature deep throws, wide receiver screens, or clear-outs that allow him to isolate against a linebacker or slower defensive back.
I simply do not see Tutu Atwell as a player who will warrant more than 50 targets in a season. He is a fast deep threat who does not offer much in terms of blocking for the running game, nor does he seem to be a day-in-day-out type of player. But as one LA Rams fan named Percy told me, he has shown up to this year’s training camp and done everything that is expected of him with an incredibly positive and determined attitude.
Does it matter where in the Rams depth chart he falls? Not exactly. The biggest step for him is to make a positive contribution this season. I think he is on track to do exactly that.