2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jay Tufele

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jay Tufele

by April 25, 2021 0 comments

Earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019, Jay Tufele registered 41 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 13 games with the USC Trojans. Ultimately choosing to opt-out of the 2020 college football season due to COVID-19 concerns, the redshirt junior has the makeup to be an effective three-down defensive lineman at the NFL level. Displaying outstanding get-off and quickness at over 300 pounds, Tufele is a disruptor in the run game, forcing him to command double teams.

Furthermore, he has both the explosiveness and hand usage to be effective in the passing game. Eating up single blocks during his college tenure, he can beat opposing offensive lineman with power and quickness. An intriguing option for any NFL team early on day three of the draft, he is a diamond in the rough prospect amongst a weak interior defensive line class.

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: Jay Tufele

Jersey: #78

Position: Defensive Tackle

School: USC

Class: Redshirt Junior 

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 315 lbs

Explosiveness (8/10)

Quick at getting off the line, Tufele can create pressure quickly with a great first step for an interior lineman. Recording 10 tackles for a loss during his tenure with the Trojans, he possesses explosive hands which allow him to beat opposing lineman with ease when blocked one on one. Playing with aggression, snap-in, and snap-out, Tufele can also shoot the gap in the run game. This allows the 21-year-old to meet and wrap up opposing ball carriers in the backfield.

Flexibility (7.5/10)

Remaining incredibly flexible for a player his size, Tufele can beat interior lineman in pass-rushing situations. As fluid a player among the defensive line class, he displays outstanding wiggle, leading him to shed blocks with ease. Along with this, he can get across the face of opposing blockers while remaining agile enough to put his foot in the ground and change direction.

Length (6.5/10)

Not an overly long player, he remains in the 49th percentile for wingspan with a 79 3/8″ measurement. Furthermore, he also does not possess excessively long arms with just a 32 1/2″ measurement. Sometimes in trouble when he misses his initial hand placement, Tufele gives up his chest, allowing him to become blocked up and moved out of the play. Best situated as a three-technique in an NFL defensive scheme, he may not hold up as a traditional defensive tackle at the NFL level due to his lack of size and length.

Run Defense (8/10)

A solid run defender, Tufele can use his power to meet players in the hole while also showing vigorous pursuit down the line to get in on tackles. He also uses strong agility to work through the line and get into the backfield to blow up the play and create a stop. Demanding a double team, usually on run plays, he eats up blocks and allows linebackers and safeties to come in behind him and make the play.

Football IQ (6.5/10)

Remaining a major concern when projecting his ability at the pro level, he often has problems diagnosing plays, leading him to need to improve at reading and reacting. Furthermore, Tufele will sometimes become fooled in pursuing the ball on both pass and run plays, forcing him to misread or overrun the play. Down a year of football after sitting out the 2020 season, he will need to improve at processing and diagnosing plays to be successful at the NFL level.

Lateral Mobility (8.5/10)

A stellar athlete among the interior of the defensive line, Tufele has both exceptional balance and mobility. Clocking in a 4.98 40-yard-dash time at the Trojans pro day, he can make plays from sideline to sideline in the run game. Extremely light on his feet for his size, he remains highly raw as a pass rusher, leaving room for development and refinement in the NFL.

Tackling (7/10)

Strong at the point of attack, Tufele can use both quickness and power to get off blocks. Able to anchor with a strong upper body in the run game, he can get through the line with exceptional short-area quickness to help him wrap up ball carriers. However, sometimes he can play tall on film, leading him to become blocked up and moved out of rushing lanes. Furthermore, this high pad level also leads to a fair share of missed tackles in the backfield.

Power (8/10)

Violent in pass-rushing situations, Tufele can power through opposing offensive lineman with strong hand usage. A former rugby player, he can use an effective get-off and first step to put lineman on their heels with his strength. Able to soak up blocks in the middle of the defense, look for him to become more effective at this with further development at the NFL level in identifying different fronts and blocking schemes.

Versatility (7.5/10)

A prototypical three-down defensive lineman, Tufele offers scheme versatility to any NFL franchise. Typically lining up over the outside shoulder of the offensive guard in a three-technique, he also has experience playing one technique. Moreover, he can also line up as a four technique over the offensive tackle with the speed and flexibility to be effective off the edge. Likely to line up along the interior of the defensive line in most fronts in the NFL, he has the versatility to be effective playing in different gaps.

Effort (4/5)

Consistent with his outstanding effort play in and play out, Tufele utilizes an effective motor on each and every snap. Making plays from sideline to sidelines, he finds a way to get off blocks and get behind the line of scrimmage to interrupt the action.

Injury (3/5) 

Sidelined during his senior season in high school, Tufele tore a ligament in his foot that forced him to miss multiple months. In addition to this, he also played with an injured hand during a significant duration of his standout 2019 campaign.

Player Summary

Originally a four-star recruit out of high school, Tufele ultimately landed with the Trojans at the University of Southern California. Productive during his freshman season in 2018, he racked up 24 tackles, three sacks, and one interception in 11 games for the team. However, he enjoyed his best campaign in 2019 as the 21-year-old was one of the unquestioned leaders of Clay Helton’s team. Earning all-conference honors, Tufele ultimately chose to sit out of the 2020 college football season due to COVID-19 concerns surrounding his family.

A disruptive force in the run game, he plays with outstanding flexibility and explosiveness. Furthermore, he has a high motor that allows him to give a full effort from whistle to whistle. Offering scheme versatility to any team that chooses to select him, look for Tufele to sneak into the back half of the third round as one of the first few interior defensive linemen to be taken off the board.

Final Grade (74.5): Late Third Round/Early Fourth Round Pick

Player Comp: Timmy Jernigan


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