Name: Marcell Ateman
Position: Wide Receiver
Pro Team: Oakland Raiders
College Team: Oklahoma State Cowboys
Draft Status: Seventh round, 228th overall
- Height: 6’4’’
- Weight: 216 Pounds
- Arm Length: 32 7/8’’
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.62
- Three Cone: 7.07
- Vertical Jump: 34’’
- Broad Jump: 121’’
As you may already have noticed, at 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds, he has the size to definitely compete at the NFL level. The most exciting thing about his play is his ability to run a full route tree. He does a good job of getting in and out of his breaks while running his routes, making it easier for him to create separation from defenders.
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Catching the ball at its highest point is one of his specialties. Ateman has the ball skills to make all kinds of spectacular plays and that could make him a dependable target in the passing game. Not only does he have a knack for making highlight-reel catches, but he’s also very aware of his surroundings and what’s going on around him. His awareness on the field assists him in dragging his toes while trying to convert tough contest catch along the sideline. This is a skill not many wide receiver prospects possess and will make him a reliable option for short yardage and goal-line situations.
One of the biggest drawbacks to Ateman’s game is that he’s not a tremendous athlete. He lacks the speed to blow by defenders and doesn’t have the burst or quickness to separate from defensive backs. Ateman will need to rely on route running and craftiness to win at the next level.
I said earlier that he has a good solid frame and his height will help him beat defenders on jump balls. However, he doesn’t know how to use his size correctly and defenders will easily beat him to the punch at the catch point. This causes him to not convert contested catches on shorter routes.
Another worry is that he relied on his size too much at the college level. He will need to find a few new ways to win on the field if he wants to be a key piece to Oakland’s offense in the next few years.
The perceived stability of Oakland’s passing attack leaves some question marks to whether Ateman can make the 53-man roster. What most people fail to realize is there’s some concealed ambiguity with Oakland receiving corps.
With a suspension possibly looming over Martavis Bryant’s head, we don’t really know how the depth chart is going to shake out. Jordy Nelson is not getting any younger and he’s slowly fading away from his glory days. We don’t know when the fall off is going to happen for Nelson, but we all know father time is undefeated.
Things could easily shift to Ateman’s favor and create opportunities for him to carve out a role within the offense. It’s a narrative we must play out in our heads, but this narrative is more than what most seventh-round wide receiver prospects get when they enter the league.
Unless he falls on his face during camp, he should at least be on the team’s practice squad this year. It would take multiple poor performances to make the Raiders want to cut bait from him this summer.
Jon Gruden is a threat to every player on the team. Just about every transaction the team has made since he has taken over as head coach has been questionable. Instead of building for the future, they have been signing older veterans like Doug Martin and Jordy Nelson in free agency.
The reason why this is a threat to Ateman is that they could decide to bring in more veteran free agents next year and that would make it a lot harder for him to get established with the team. If they were quick to pull the trigger on Martin and Nelson, then they could be quick to pull the trigger on other established players down the road.
I expect him to either be on the team’s practice squad or be on the back end of the 53-man roster. Ateman might get some catches here and there, but unless a slew of injuries occurs, don’t expect him to get much action this year.
The odds are highly likely that he will struggle to break the starting lineup and become a consistent fantasy asset. At best, he could string a few productive games together, but nothing you can rely on. He’s more than likely going to be your classic run-of-the-mill journeyman player who bounces from team to team hoping to latch onto a roster.
Tori Gurley was an undrafted free agent from the 2011 draft class. He compares to Ateman in size, speed, and athleticism. In college, Gurley was a solid route runner who utilized his size to win on the field. He’s a little bit faster than Ateman, but there’s literally no highly noticeable players to compare him too. It’s not a death nail, but it’s indeed a red flag that there are no historical comparisons who resemble his size and athleticism combined with his skill set.
Jaelen Strong was a more athletic prospect coming out of college. Though, like Ateman, Strong relied heavily on his size to make plays while at Arizona State. I can’t blame wide receivers for utilizing their size. After all, if you have an advantage, you might as well use it. The thing is, it’s an advantage that doesn’t translate well to the NFL game and those wide receivers will need other tricks up their sleeve whether it be speed, ball skills or elite level route running to win at the next level. Size combined with other attributes will help players win on the field but alone, it’s not enough to stand out against elite-level competition.
PROJECTED RANGE FOR ROOKIE DRAFTS
Ateman is going undrafted in a lot of rookie drafts. If anything, he’s a dart throw you can make with the final pick in your draft. I’m not 100 percent optimistic about his future and I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to pass on him to select someone else. Considering his skill set and how productive he was at Oklahoma State, the relatively low price-tag you have to pay to get him is well worth the investment. You can’t beat free.