(Photo of Tutu Atwell: Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In less than a week, former Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell will learn where he will begin his professional career. The 2021 NFL Draft is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Apr. 29, and the 5-foot-9, 155 pound slot receiver is widely expected to be the first Cardinal taken off the board.
While many are reserved about his small frame, his blazing speed and yards after catch potential is what makes him so enticing. Among most mock drafts, Atwell is regarded as a late day two selection, and is knocking on the doorstep of perhaps being a first round pick.
Related: Tutu Atwell 2021 NFL Draft Profile
Not only could he potentially be a first round pick if mock drafts are to be believed, many draft experts and pundits have drawn NFL comparisons between him and a player who did get drafted in the first round - current Baltimore Ravens wideout Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., The Athletic's Dane Brugler, CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso and Athlon Sports are among the many in the industry who have compared Atwell to Brown. While Brown has had a shaky start to his NFL career, comparisons to him are not necessarily a bad thing.
"Atwell and Brown show how the NFL has changed over the years. They're tiny 5-foot-9 wideouts with lightning speed who can be used all over an offense. They can fly with the ball in their hands," Kiper wrote. "A smart offensive coordinator will get Atwell the ball in space and let him work."
Brown was taken with the No. 25 overall pick by the Ravens in the 2019 NFL Draft. While he logged 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in his final year at Oklahoma, his NFL career has had some ups and downs so far. Brown had 769 yards and eight touchdowns last season in Baltimore, but also six dropped passes.
That being said, both Atwell and Brown possess a level of speed that more than compensates their small physical stature. This trait, more so than others, is the reason that the Ravens have stuck with Brown to mold him into a better receiver, and why Atwell will hear his name on draft day.
"Atwell has sudden feet and playmaking speed to separate before and after the catch, racing by coverage to consistently take the top off the defense. However, he is a small target with obvious play strength limitations and durability concerns," Brugler wrote. "Overall, Atwell has a skill set very similar to Marquise Brown: vastly undersized with more drops than ideal, but his speed stresses every level of the defense."
Despite a slight dip in production during his junior campaign due to injuries and defenses keying on him, Atwell still managed to lead the Cardinals with 46 receptions and seven touchdowns. He was second in receiving yards with 625.
He burst onto the scene during Satterfield's first year at the helm, leading the ACC with 1,276 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. The latter tied the single-season school record while the former broke it. He finished his Louisville career with 140 receptions for 2,307 yards and 21 touchdowns. The yardage mark is good for eighth in school history, while the touchdown total in good for fifth.
The 2021 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, Apr. 29 at 8:00 p.m. EST on ESPN and the NFL Network.
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