One of the famed wide receivers in Louisville football history is taking his talents to the next level after just three seasons with the program.
Atwell’s 1,272 receiving yards in 2019 set a school record for receiving yards in a season. It had been a record held by former Cardinal Harry Douglas, a former 10-year NFL veteran with the Falcons and Titans.
As an NFL prospect, the first thing you’ll notice about Atwell is his small stature to go along with game breaking speed. With no NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this year, he will have to show off his abilities March 30th at Louisville’s pro day. The expectation is that he runs one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of any receiver in the draft.
The biggest issue that follows him remains his height and weight upon weigh-in time. Teams will surely be keeping tabs on that. It’s an area that could affect his draft stock significantly.
Atwell’s role at Louisville was to get the ball in open space and work the YAC components of his game. He showed much-improved hands in 2020 as a sure hands catcher of the football with better deep tracking on vertical routes.
At the next level, his size and inability to work with physicality will likely limit him to a full-time slot role. If he wants to be known as a player on the field in three-wide sets consistently, he will need to gain some nuance as a route runner.
To this point, Atwell is likely more of a fun gadget option for teams as a WR4 that can separate with elite speed in the open field.
While at Louisville, Atwell’s route tree consisted of in routes, speed outs, skinny posts, deep overs, and the occasional corner route where he could be isolated in a one-on-one without contact. Other than that, he was a player that was manufactured touches via releasing to the flat with motion or pop passes.
He might be limited as a full-time player at the next level. But there is plenty of speed that some teams will fall in love with in certain roles in their respective offenses.
Here’s three teams that would be a match made in heaven for Atwell
Kansas City Chiefs
Anyone who follows the NFL closely probably knew this was coming. The Chiefs, under the leadership of Andy Reid, are one of the most creative teams in the NFL at getting the ball into the hands of fast playmakers. Atwell could be himself in this offense and not have to worry about being an elite route runner at any point in his career.
This franchise values speed on offense above all else with the likes of wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman as well as tight end Travis Kelce as their premier weapons. The Chiefs have two unrestricted free agent receivers this offseason. Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson are set to hit the open market.
That leaves room for Atwell as a possible selection for this team somewhere early in day three. He’d be the definition of a perfect match in this offense. If Atwell goes here, Louisville fans should be very excited.