It is well known that the defensive line class in the 2021 draft isn’t great or even good. USC is providing two solid prospects in Jay Tufele and Marlon Tuipulotu. The lesser-known prospect, Tuipulotu, has a chance to be selected on the second day of the draft. With the class lacking many impact players, he could be pushed up the board more expected.
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Name: Marlon Tuipulotu
Position: Interior Defensive Line
Class: Redshirt Junior
Weight: 308 lbs
Tuipulotu is disruptive right from the snap. He has a good first step and immediately puts pressure on the interior linemen to keep him within their reach. His explosiveness isn’t the best in the class, but it is certainly noticeable.
Pass Rush Ability (6/10)
Tuipulotu lacks some pass-rush skills. He isn’t horrible, but he won’t gather more than six sacks in the NFL yearly. Tuipulotu is one of the best run defenders in the class from the interior, which makes up for his lack of consistent pass-rush production.
Block Shedding (8.75/10)
He consistently keeps his hands fighting through the mud and tries to gain any push against the offensive line. Tuipulotu has great leverage, and when there is a crease he sees, he will take it.
There were plenty of times where Tuipulotu looked overmatched at the line of scrimmage. He needs to add to his upper-body strength to continue his growth at the next level.
Tuipulotu is fine in this regard. He won’t get through small creases, but when there is a large opening for him to get through, he will take it and try to snag the ball carrier.
Football IQ (8.25/10)
Tuipulotu can diagnose screens well. He has a good sense of the blocking schemes and uses it to his advantage to gain an advantage and can beat the ball carrier to the intended running lane.
Lateral Movement (8.75/10)
This is his best trait. Tuipulotu is never out of a play when it is within the first seven or so yards off from the line of scrimmage. He has good closing speed and is fluid in any direction.
Tuipulotu’s tackling is a big concern. He missed many tackles, and it seemed as though he didn’t try to go through his form and instead tried lunging at the ball carrier.
He seems to only fit in a 4-3 scheme as a one or three-tech. Tuipulotu could play nose tackle in a 3-4, but he has yet to play in that scheme.
He gives consistent effort on every play. Tuipulotu can carry his momentum all over the field, and it helps him try and tackle the ball carrier. He doesn’t give up on many plays and tries to always be in a position to finish the play off.
Tuipulotu had surgery on a season-ending back injury during the 2017 season.
There are some things to work with here. Of course, there are some major red flags like Tuipulotu’s tackling and average strength. Tuipulotu could very well be selected on day two due to the lack of depth in this defensive line class. His lack of consistent pass-rush is a concern as well, and he could afford to add more to his disposal in this regard. Tuipulotu can get off blocks easily, and his constant effort will make him a hot commodity if he lasts to day three of the draft. Tufele is the better USC defensive lineman though.
Final Grade (74.5/100): Late Fourth Round