University of Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell had "a couple" Zoom calls with the Los Angeles Rams during the pre-draft process, allowing him to get a feel for how he might be used in their offense. But the words that stood out the most came from a promise made by wide receivers coach Eric Yarber.
"The Zoom calls went great, very well," Atwell said during a conference call with Rams beat writers following his selection. "The receivers coach told me, 'don't be surprised if we don't let you go past the second round,' so I always stuck to that. My agent was telling me a couple things and it was sounding great. I was just ready. I was just excited for it. My heart was beating fast."
That reaction shouldn't come as a surprise, as Atwell – the No. 57 overall pick and the Rams' first selection of the 2021 NFL Draft – is well-regarded for his speed, and just as eager to make an impact for the Rams.
He reportedly ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at Louisville's pro day. In a video posted to the Rams' Twitter account, general manger Les Snead said that by their standards, Atwell "is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, player in the draft."
Creating explosive plays on offense has been a priority stressed by Rams head coach Sean McVay since the beginning of the offseason, and after adding Matthew Stafford's arm talent and wide receiver DeSean Jackson's speed, he gets another weapon to accomplish that goal in Atwell.
"I feel great about (fitting into the Rams' wide receiver core)," Atwell said. "I'm a great receiver. When the ball's in my hands, I know what to do with it. I just need the ball in my hands and I'll show you everything else. You've got my word."
Across three seasons at Louisville, Atwell posted a career average of 16.5 yards per reception. His 10 100-yard receiving games are fourth-most in school history. Just last season, he caught three passes for 129 yards and a touchdown and also recorded his first career rushing touchdown in a win over Florida State. Atwell also hauled in eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns in Louisville's loss to Miami.
All of this was accomplished despite being listed at 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, according to reported measurements from his school's pro day. Though as his production likely already indicated, that only motivates him more.
"I just come with a chip on my shoulder at all times," Atwell said. "No matter what the situation is, man. I'm a go-getter. I'm just ready for the season to start and to get to it."