Marlon Tuipulotu NFL Draft Overview
Position: Defensive Tackle
Weight: 305 pounds
Marlon Tuipulotu 2021 NFL Draft Profile
NFL Scouts have been questioning the quality and depth of the defensive tackle class in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, that makes the few that are projected as potential starters even more valuable throughout the weekend. Marlon Tuipulotu projects as an early-down run stuffer from the defensive tackle position. There are a lot of teams in need of a big body who can do just do that.
Tuipulotu was born in Independence, Oregon, and attended Central High School in the same area. A 4-star defensive lineman in High School, Tuipulotu originally committed to the University of Washington in 2016. However, after his senior season in which the defensive tackle made 62 tackles and six sacks, Tuipulotu de-committed from Washington and signed for USC. He would only play in three games for the Trojans as a freshman after injuries essentially forced him to take a redshirt.
As a redshirt freshman, he started 10 of 12 games for USC in 2018, making 33 total tackles and 4.5 sacks. In 2019, Tuipulotu’s overall production jumped as he racked up a career-high 46 total tackles that included six tackles for loss and two sacks in 12 games. In his senior year, Tuipulotu recorded 23 total tackles in just five games during the shortened Pac-12 season. He also added two sacks to his career tally and earned First Team All-Pac-12 honors in 2020.
- Powerful – Weight is a little below the average at the nose tackle position, but his strength holds up;
- Versatile – Can play the nose tackle position and in three-technique;
- Quick hands – Gets a good first move on blockers and plays with leverage efficiently, getting the most of his power;
- Known at USC to play tough – does the dirty work;
- Experienced – Three-year starter with production as a quality run-stuffer.
- The pay strength holds up in college – but some teams won’t ignore the average size for a nose tackle;
- Conditioning – Efficiency dropped in the 4th quarter often;
- Limited pass rusher – Difficult to keep him on the field for obvious passing downs;
- Not a raw athlete – Agility and burst is lacking, wins with his hands;
- Tendency to slip off tackles in the hole.
NFL Comparison: Poona Ford
Undrafted out of Texas in 2018, Ford has turned himself into a capable run-stuffer in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. Undersized in height (5’-”11), Ford plays with natural leverage and strength in the run game. He shifted to nose tackle full-time in 2020 and racked up 40 total tackles for Seattle including eight tackles for loss and two sacks.
Teams With Need at Position: Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys
Projection: Fourth Round
Bottom Line on Marlon Tuipulotu
Tuipulotu has a powerful frame and has the pedigree from his college career with USC to be a solid run-stuffing defensive tackle in the NFL. He would add great depth and starting potential to teams who struggled against the run in 2020. He offers versatility with experience playing nose tackle and in three-technique for the Trojans, although probably has to add a little more weight to his frame to hold up as a true nose tackle in the NFL. The sack production is also far from mediocre for what he was asked to do in college.
However, the pass rush toolbox is lacking to stay in the game on passing downs. Tuipulotu relies on his quickness and his hands to win early in the snap and doesn’t seem to have a counter when he gets tied up by a lineman in his pass rush. He’s also not the most agile, which shows when he misses on sacks and fails to get his weight behind a tackle in the hole, occasionally leading to missed tackles.
That said, the character grading is off the charts by all those who’ve been in contact with Tuipulotu. He has a great appetite for the game and works his socks off for 60 minutes. There was also obvious improvement in his pass rush during the shortened season, which will be encouraging for the team that drafts him. He’s a lock to be drafted, likely in the four-five round range.
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