Ateman possesses elite size at somewhere between 6’3″ and 6’4″ and 220 to 230 pounds in a lean, muscular frame. He does a good job of using that frame and strength before, during, and after the catch. He uses it well at the stem of the route when covered tightly to gain distance between he and the defensive back without pushing off, and his physicality can frustrate opponents into getting “handsy.” Ateman also does a good job of using his frame to shield off defenders at the catch point. His lower body strength allows him to shake off reach tackles and he has the upper body strength to sit defenders down with a stiff arm. Ateman is also a very underrated route runner when it comes to routes coming back towards the line of scrimmage. He does and outstanding job of finding the sticks and before sinking his hips and taking his long plant foot stride and coming back to the ball. Oklahoma State showed their fondness for him in the offense specifically on third down, where he received a large share of the targets. The most obvious strength he possesses is his hand strength and ability to high point the ball, all while showing the awareness to find the sideline on his way down.
Ateman would not give you whiplash if he ran right by your face. He is by no means a burner, as I expect him to run in the 4.55-4.60 range at the combine. He has shown that he has a 6th gear, but it takes time for him to get there. He also has trouble at times tracking the ball over his shoulder and then cleanly coming down with it, bobbling it at times. He also takes reps off when on the opposite side of a half field read. Although he shows good pace changes and sharp cuts on out-breaking routes and while coming back to the ball, he has a tendency to get lethargic on dig routes especially.
I believe that Marcell Ateman could round out to a number one guy at the next level. He doesn’t necessarily have the upside that some others have in this class from an athletic standpoint, but he is developed enough to step in and make an impact as a number two immediately. He is rare in the sense that he can win both at the catch point and by separating from a defender by setting him up and breaking on his route.