Two-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler Chad Johnson has become more of a fan of NFL talent. He revealed on the morning of Friday, September 10, that he’s especially a fan of one Los Angeles Rams rookie about to make his league debut on Sunday night.
And this rookie happens to be from Johnson’s Liberty City, Florida neighborhood.
The 43-year-old Johnson responded to a fan tweet asking for “Ochocinco’s” thoughts on the Rams, to which Johnson predicted this for Rams rookie Tutu Atwell.
‘Ochocinco’ Has Endorsed Atwell Before
After the Rams took Atwell with their first pick of the 2021 draft, many were perplexed that the 5-foot-9, 155-pound Atwell was taken that high at No. 57 overall.
Some called him “a reach.” ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. called him a first rounder in his March 23 NFL mock draft. The Pro Football Focus Rams Twitter account, though, called Atwell a “below average” pick.
There were countless of others on social media who degraded the Atwell selection. But then there was “Ochocinco” who endorsed the move and called a bold prediction of how Atwell will work in the “Rams House.”
Back in April, Johnson made this declaration on day two of the NFL Draft involving the Miami native and former Louisville Cardinal Atwell: Predicting that Atwell’s future NFL head coach Sean McVay will be “smiling from ear to ear” the moment he sees Atwell showcase the speed and explosiveness that got him drafted.
Despite his frame, Atwell was drafted largely because of his reported 4.32 40-yard dash time, giving him the ability to blow the top off of a defense. Louisville put him in positions where they could use his speed as a mismatch especially on gadget plays where he gets motioned out and then redirects to create confusion to defenders, seen in these series of plays against Florida State from October 2020.
Another example of Atwell’s dynamics? His eight catch, 114-yard, two touchdown evening in September 2020 against the university he once grew up near: The University of Miami. Atwell showcases his separation from defenders and run-after-catch ability here.
Why ‘Ochocinco’ is Right About Atwell
Johnson has clearly seen Atwell go to work on the field before, scrutinizing his speed and compartmentalizing his overall fit in McVay’s offense. As it is, McVay has thrived with receivers who didn’t have a tall, imposing build or even Johnson’s 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame.
Notable wideouts who thrived under McVay before but didn’t have the “prototypical” build are:
- DeSean Jackson: The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder averaged a career-best 19 yards a catch and posted two 1,000-yard seasons at Washington when McVay served as the offensive coordinator.
- Pierre Garcon: Stood at 6-feet, 211-pounds but his last 1,000-yard season was with McVay offense in D.C. in 2016.
- Jamison Crowder: Before McVay took the Rams’ job, the 5-foot-9, 177-pound Crowder averaged between 10.2 to 12.6 yards a catch and combined for 126 receptions and nine touchdowns from 2015 to ’16.
- Brandin Cooks: The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder had his most season yardage (1,204 in 2018) with McVay and the Rams.
- Robert Woods: The 6-foot, 195-pounder has seen a reception and touchdown trajectory in McVay’s offense since his arrival to the Rams in 2017.
While the Rams are loaded across the board at the receiver position, all signs point to Atwell thriving under McVay and the Rams. And Atwell has a big believer in a fellow Liberty City star in “Ochocinco.”