Jay Tufele - IDL, USC
By the numbers:
6'3", 305 pounds.
2019: 41 tackles (5.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks in 13 games played.
Opted out of the 2020 season.
Jay Tufele is an elite-level athlete capable of getting to pretty much any spot he wants on the field. He explodes off the snap and has a great speed-to-power transition that wastes little energy. He runs across the faces of blockers and is agile and flexible enough to change direction at the drop of a hat. Tufele's reaction time and motor are both great. Effort and ability to disrupt plays are never questions with him.
Another one of Tufele's strengths is his hands. He has a powerful club he uses at the initial point of contact and unleashes a strong inside swim move as a counter when necessary. He places his hands with precision and makes up for a lack of elite length because he can drive from a strong base with accuracy. This makes him an overall force against both the run and the pass.
Consistency is a concern with Tufele's game. Opting out of the 2020 season certainly didn't help, and it may hurt his draft stock just a bit. He occasionally misreads the directions on run plays but luckily for him, he has a quick processor and covers enough ground for it to not be a huge issue. More experience will likely make him more comfortable and efficient with his decisions.
Tufele's pad level is another notable problem at times. He straightens out too frequently, losing power when rushing the passer and becoming a non-factor on some reps. He's athletic enough to remain low and explode consistently, and it's paramount that he does so as a three-down player at the next level. It could be the key that unlocks his immense potential.
How Tufele fits with the Chiefs:
With Derrick Nnadi under contract through the 2021 season, there isn't a pressing need for a starting-caliber interior defensive lineman. With that said, Tufele would be the NFL's best insurance policy in the event Nnadi departs as a free agent next offseason. He has experience as a 1-tech, 3-tech and even 4i-tech, is well-rounded as a player and is a good fit in the Chiefs' system. He may not be the dominant run-stuffing presence that Nnadi is, but he offers a higher overall ceiling.
Tufele is an athletic specimen with limitless potential. He's a threat to disrupt plays in the backfield against both the run and pass, making him an every-down tackle at the next level. As a smart player who could reach a whole different level of play with some minor improvements, he grades out as a second-round pick. Expect Tufele to find success wherever he goes, whether it be as a one-gap or two-gap lineman.