USC's 2020 roster will have seven prospects entering the 2021 NFL Draft. On the defensive side of the ball, former Trojan Marlon Tuipulotu is expected to hear his name called somewhere between rounds three-and-five.
Tuipulotu is projected to be a starting interior defensive lineman in the NFL with good potential, as he seems like a pro-ready player. So let's dive into three reasons why Marlon's game will translate into a good NFL career.
No. 1 Versatility
Tuipulotu typically aligned as the 1-technique or nose tackle in USC’s defense, though he also lined up as a B-gap defender on occasion.
While he mostly played the 0 or 1-technique nose tackle for the Trojans, he projects better as as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, and a defensive end in a 3-4 defense at the NFL level. Those positions would allow him to attack the B-gap and play with quickness and power, as opposed to being a block-eater.
Tuipulotu has a versatile enough frame to play in 3-man, 4-man, hybrid, or multiple fronts as long as they are based on one-gap schemes. Plus every NFL team can use a multi-faceted defensive lineman.
No. 2 Athleticism
He shows good flexibility in his lower body, settling into a compact stance before firing out with a good first step.
Tuipulotu has heavy, active hands which he uses to keep himself clean during his rushes or to discard blockers when the time comes to make a play on the ball. Tuipulotu infuses quickness and power into his rushes, as he was able to win matchups as a gap shooter or as a bull-rusher.
He also shows good upper body strength to stay extended and keep linemen from locking in and sustaining their blocks. The 6-foot-2 lineman has a good blend of size, athleticism, and play strength to play the position at the NFL level.
Tuipulotu shows good play strength when meeting blockers one-on-one as a run defender. The 308-pounder is difficult for individual blockers to move off the line of scrimmage when he’s playing with good leverage. He does a very good job of leveraging gaps which allows him to shed blockers and make plays when they are there to be made.
Tuipulotu doesn't play with overwhelming strength, as his game is more based on explosive power in his first step and winning early. The former standout Trojan was able to extend his arms keeping offensive linemen from sustaining their blocks.
In 30 career games, Tuipulotu shined for Clay Helton's team. He finished with 104 tackles, 15 for loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
He had great production at Southern California, and expect that to translate into a nice NFL career.
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