Tutu Atwell is only just 15 months removed from the L.A. Rams picking him 57th overall and his experience hasn’t been ideal.
Atwell’s rookie season was cut short due to a season-ending shoulder injury after 8 games. He did not record any receptions, appearing in a total of 10 offensive snaps. His only usage was on special teams, returning 10 punts for 54 yards and 5 kick offs for 87 yards (17.4/return). Although the Louisville product received some constructive criticism about “urgency” from Sean McVay early in the season, overall expectations were likely tempered because of L.A.’s history of easing draft picks into action.
Heading into 2022, expectations and urgency will be elevated. By the sound of it, Tutu already appears to be planning for “more”. The reports from OTAs and minicamp revealed that Atwell gained a little humility. An offseason studying and training alongside Cooper Kupp can do that.
We are days away from seeing how Atwell will handle his second training camp and preseason. But let’s ask the million-dollar question: What does Tutu Atwell need to do in 2022 to have a successful season and remove negative connotations about his draft selection?
The answer is not likely just to be metrics (though it’s the easiest to “quantify”). There are three key areas for Tutu Atwell to focus on.
The number one way that Tutu Atwell can make an impact is as a wide receiver. With zero receptions in 2021, it will be imperative that he earns more offensive snaps and turns that into production. But Atwell figures to be at best the No. 3 option within the offense, behind Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson II. Even then Tyler Higbee will likely see more targets.
The role for Atwell is pretty straightforward - he will need to stretch the field vertically and create the explosive plays the L.A. offense values when his number is called in the huddle. Those explosives could be via a deep route tree or through short/intermediate routes than he can collect YAC. Last year, we saw McVay call a number of WR screens and lined Kupp up in the backfield. Atwell is likely to be a consideration for those play calls moving forward; aiming to mismatch the gadget player on linebackers. From a passing game standpoint, here’s what I deem a productive season from the second year player might look like:
30-35 receptions (45-50 targets), 425 yards, 3 TD
The McVay offense features a healthy amount of jet sweeps and fakes and with Tutu’s speed, it is almost certain that he will be featured as that gadget when on the field. The Rams attempted 14 rushing plays last year with their wide receivers (8 - Robert Woods, 4 - Cooper Kupp, 2 - Van Jefferson). With Woods’ injury midway through the year, there was a significant drop in fakes and jet sweeps. I’m predicting the number of rushes by the WR room to climb into the twenties with Atwell and Jefferson being the feature options.
13 rushes, 102 yards (7.8/carry), 1 TD
An overlooked competition in training camp will be Tutu Atwell vs Brandon Powell for returner responsibilities. Even though he was a huge factor down the stretch of 2021, Powell will need to earn his spot in 2022. With Atwell’s homerun ability, special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis will undeniably call upon him.
12 punt returns, 114 yards, 0 TD
16 kick returns, 384 yards, 0 TD
Tutu Atwell, the LA coaching staff, and Rams fans are all hoping for promising results this year. It is not likely to entail a 1,000 yard receiving season, but it could be 1,000 all-purpose yards. What do you think Atwell must do in all three phases to be a solid contributor on the team?
How many all-purpose yards will Tutu Atwell have in 2022 (and how many will be as a WR)?
This poll is closed
700-850, (200 rec yards)
850-1000, (300 rec yards)
1000-1150, (400 rec yards)
1150 or more, (550+ rec yards)