(Photo of Tutu Atwell: Alton Strupp - Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When the 2021 NFL Draft gets started later this month, out of the handful of draft prospects from the Louisville football program, one of the first ones off the board is expected to be Tutu Atwell. The general consensus among scouts is that the wide receiver is expected to be a day two selection, with some even projecting him to crack the tail end of the first round.
While most experts in the draft industry praise Atwell's abilities, mainly his blistering speed, many are also concerned about his size. At Louisville's Pro Day on Mar. 30, the Miami native measured at an eight of an inch under 5-foot-9, and just 155 pounds.
For context, the average NFL wide receiver comes in at roughly 6-feet, 200-pounds. But if you ask Atwell himself, while he admits he could add more to his frame, he's not one bit concerned about being undersized at the next level.
"Everybody has something to say about my weight. Size doesn't mean anything," he said after Pro Day had concluded. "Yeah, I could put on a couple pounds, but the lowest I ever weighed was 151, and I feel good playing at 151. It is what it is."
Outside of the measurables portion, Atwell stood out during his Pro Day, which hosted scouts and representatives from all 32 NFL teams. Not only did he showcase his straight-line speed by clocking an official 40-yard dash time of 4.32, but he shined in his position drills - showcasing his agility, route-running, and of course, the ability to catch the football.
"I showed (scouts) that size doesn't mean anything," Atwell said. "That I can play outside, inside, they can put me wherever they want. I showed them I have great hands as well, as you saw I caught everything with my hands, and tried not to catch with my body. I think I showed them a great vision of me."
He's not the only person who thinks his size, or lack thereof, will not be a detractor in his success at the next level. Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield thinks that, despise of Atwell's much smaller frame compared to most in the league, that his game will transition well to the NFL because of league rules favoring the offense.
"When you're in college as a wide receiver, they're grabbing you a bunch, and they're getting away with it. In the NFL, once they get past the five yards, they gotta let them run," Satterfield said. "So, once he gets to that level out there and he gets it loose in the secondary, they're not catching him. He's got great speed, and he can catch the football, so I'm not worried about being 155 pounds."
Of course, the ones whose opinions on Atwell's frame truly matter are the NFL scouts and team representatives. But according to Satterfield, teams have not inquired much about his size. He says the No. 1 question he receives about Atwell is the pro comparison, to which Satterfield responds with four-time Pro Bowl Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton - who he coached at FIU when he was the offensive coordinator.
Atwell saw a slight dip in production during his junior campaign due to injuries and defenses keying on him after a breakout sophomore year. He led the Cardinals with 46 receptions and seven touchdowns, and 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. Louisville will kickoff the 2021 season against Ole Miss in the annual Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Monday, Sept. 6.
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