It’s not often a player wins a Super Bowl in their rookie season, but first-year wide receiver Tutu Atwell had a year he’d probably like to forget.
After being drafted with the 57th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Atwell played in eight games, starting none before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against the Houston Texans in October. During his rookie campaign, Tutu had zero catches and played a mere 10 offensive snaps all season. Atwell was exclusively limited to special teams action, returning 10 punts for 54 yards and five kickoffs for 87 yards.
Not great for a first-year player seemingly on the way to losing his already loose grip on the receiver position. About the only thing that was consistent about Atwell’s rookie campaign was being the target of ridicule from the LA fanbase.
I still wonder why the Rams used a 2nd round pick on Tutu Atwell— Akash (@YZR_Fantasy) February 18, 2022
The Los Angeles Rams spent a 2nd-round pick on Tutu Atwell.— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) November 3, 2021
He played 10 offensive snaps through 8 weeks.
OBJ will have some big shoes to fill replacing TuTu Atwell— WI Rams Fan (@iramsfan) November 11, 2021
Tutu Atwell has firmly established himself as the worst pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.— Frank Ammirante (@FAmmiranteTFJ) October 8, 2021
Not to mention some fans were bitter over who the Rams could’ve taken with the pick instead:
As soon as David Edwards comes off the block to get to the second level, Kenny Clark tosses Brian Allen away like a used tissue.— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) November 29, 2021
Creed Humphrey was available when the Rams got cute with their Tutu Atwell pick, something I am going to remind you about for the rest of my life. https://t.co/gOvFJTXt7U
Thank God the Rams drafted Tutu Atwell instead https://t.co/esWPxIoF8V— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) December 6, 2021
Time will tell if Atwell does indeed become the worst pick of 2021 draft, but it isn’t looking good thus far for the Louisville product. Tutu was a fourth or fifth receiver at best going into the season and not much might change as the team heads into 2022. As for pass catchers, Los Angeles will boast some record-setter named Cooper Kupp, a returning Robert Woods, Van Jefferson and possibly OBJ should he be resigned and healthy.
In his limited sample size, Atwell never impressed on special teams and his role there will likely be replaced by Brandon Powell. Against the Minnesota Vikings, Powell scored on a 61-yard punt return which secured a victory and a playoff berth for the Rams. He was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts.
Given that Tutu has three years left on his current deal, it’s unlikely LA cuts him this offseason. The front office might keep him around for insurance in case a role of some sort is indeed carved out for him. Perhaps the coaching staff will only give him this season to prove that he deserves a roster spot. Atwell had an unfortunate rookie year but should he disappoint once more in whatever opportunities he’s granted, don’t expect him hanging around past ‘22.