The view of LA Rams young and swift wide receiver Tutu Atwell have been all over the board. But much like Goldilocks opinion of the three bears' beds, some have been too hard on the guy, while others have been too soft on the guy. Perhaps we can 'right size' our expectation for WR Tutu Atwell. At least, we plan to give it a try.
For starters, let's begin by taking a realistic view of the Rams 2023 offense 'as is.' Right now, the Rams have four wide receivers who are likely further on the Rams depth chart than Tutu Atwell. They are WR1 Cooper Kupp, WR2A Allen Robinson, WR2B Van Jefferson, and WR2C Ben Skowronek. After that, I believe we can slot in Tutu Atwell. Behind him (for now) are WR6A Lance McCutcheon, WR6B Austin Trammel, and WR5C Jacob Harris. The Rams even have WR8A Jaquarii Roberson and WR8B Jerreth Sterns.
That lays the groundwork for expectations for the LA Rams 2023 passing game. Now, to get this right, we'll need to normalize the 2023 Rams offensive picture. Let's start by presuming that Matthew Stafford plays 17 games, and throws for 4,500 yards. What is that amount? Well, I've taken his career passing yardage and divided that by his career number of games played.
Then I multiplied his career average by 17 NFL games. Finally, I rounded down to make it clear that this is an estimation. Of that amount, let's project that 350 yards are thrown to RBs, 650 yards to TEs, and 3,500 yards end up reaching WRs.
Eyeballing Atwell's 2023 potential
Now for really subjective projections. Of the WR total, it's no stretch of the imagination to place 50 percent or 1,750 yards in the hands of Cooper Kupp. Let's give 1000 yards to the combination of Van Jefferson and Ben Skowronek. If Allen Robinson catches just 500 yards in 2023, that allows just 250 yards for WR Tutu Atwell. That is after the guy put up 298 yards in 2022. Does that make sense?
I think it does. The LA Rams lost Cooper Kupp for eight games in 2022, Van Jefferson for six games, Ben Skowronek for three games, and Allen Robinson for seven games. With so many injuries to the primary receivers, Tutu Atwell had no competition for playing time near the end of the season. In 2023, he will struggle to get onto the field and attract targets once more.
Of course, if the Rams trade away Allen Robinson and Ben Skowronek, projections for Tutu Atwell naturally increase. That is also true if Rams receivers start experiencing injuries at the same intensity and frequency as they experienced in 2022. But realistically, Atwell will only see the football field in sub packages that simply do not work in all down-and-distance scenarios. That means limited offensive snaps.
I'm not a hater. I'm just pointing out the obvious. I don't know what the LA Rams believed that they were getting in the 2021, but whatever they saw in Tutu Atwell simply isn't that strong, particularly not for the investment of a second-round pick. Tutu Atwell proved that he definitely is capable of playing successfully in the NFL. But in 13 games, with the receiver banged up to oblivion, he hauled in 298 yards. Would it have been more for starting QB Matthew Stafford? Perhaps.
But the truth of the matter is that to gain more yards in the passing game, Atwell must leapfrog some pretty good Rams receivers, and I honestly do not see that happening. If the Rams believe that Tutu Atwell was worth that second-round pick investment, either he becomes their punt and kick returner for 2023, claims a WR2 or WR3 spot on their depth chart, or the Rams simply overestimated this young man's NFL potential.