The Los Angeles Rams didn't have a pick on the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft thanks to their blockbuster trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford earlier this offseason. On Day 2 of the draft, the Rams used their first selection to double down on Stafford, adding Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell in the second round, at No. 57 overall, to give the former Lions signal-caller yet another speedy downfield weapon.
Friday night had a familiar theme in the NFC West, with both the Cardinals and Seahawks also prioritizing speed in the second round; Arizona drafted Purdue speedster Rondale Moore, while Seattle added Western Michigan play-maker D'Wayne Eskridge. The Rams followed suit in a big way, albeit with one of the draft's smallest prospects in Atwell, who measured at just 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds.
While the Louisville product falls below typical physical standards even for an NFL slot receiver, he also offers more explosiveness than most players in his class. As The Athletic's Dane Brugler notes, he "runs like the wind with top-end speed that looks different than everyone else on the field." NFL Network's Peter Schrager said after the Rams' pick that coach Sean McVay had zeroed in on Atwell prior to the second round, assuring him Los Angeles would draft the wideout if he were available: "He's DeSean Jackson Jr.," McVay told Schrager. "Speed, speed, speed."
It just so happens that DeSean Jackson himself will be in town as a potential mentor for Atwell, having signed a one-year deal with the Rams this offseason. That means Stafford, in his first season outside of Detroit, will be surrounded by quite the cast of characters: Atwell, Jackson, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp out wide, with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. in the backfield and Tyler Higbee at tight end. If that supporting cast isn't enough to keep Stafford comfortable, not to mention accelerate the Rams' path back to title contention, then what is?
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