American Football

USC edge rusher Tuli Tuipulotu would add some size and strength to their edge rushing unit

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Colorado at USC
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Could the Broncos add a versatile defender to their front seven in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft?

One player who may interest the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft is the former USC Trojan’s defensive lineman/edge rusher Tuli Tuipulotu. He is a 6’3”, 266-pound edge rusher who has a rare blend of size, speed, strength, and athleticism which makes him one of the more intriguing defensive prospects in the draft.

Tuli Tuipulotu played three seasons at USC while playing various positions for their defense and is coming off a breakout year which raised his draft stock. During his three seasons at USC, he totaled 116 tackles for 32 tackles for a loss, 21 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. This past season, he totaled 46 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, 13.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

Player Profile

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 266 pounds

Arm Length: 32 12 inches

Hands: 10 1/8 inches

40-time: Did not run

Film Room

Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Big and thick frame and has plenty of strength
  • Played inside and outside for USC and rushed off the edge on both sides
  • Violent in the trenches and has a non-stop motor that helps him get in the backfield
  • Physical player who doesn’t quit
  • Productive pass rusher from various spots along the defense
  • Despite his size, he has some twitchiness to his game
  • Converts speed to power consistently
  • Has a quick first step and accelerates well as he gets into the backfield
  • Has dropped into coverage at times and done well against tight ends
  • A strong run defender who can set the edge well
  • Strong and violent tackler
  • Has big strong hands and has a strong punch at the point of attack
  • Coming off a very productive year that had him getting 13.5 sacks and 22 tackles for a loss

Weaknesses

  • May not be able to play inside consistently at the next level
  • Only average lower half knee bend and twitchiness
  • Has some stiffness in his game
  • Lacks the elite athleticism to consistently make plays in the open field

What other analysts are saying about USC edge rusher/defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu

Defender possessing the rare blend of size, strength and athleticism to line up as an interior or edge defender in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts. Tuipulotu plays with a go-go motor from the first snap to the last. His heavy-handed attack and ability to shed help compensate for a lack of length at the point of attack, while quick feet help him disrupt in gaps. He can play with a hand down or standing but needs to play with better discipline to eliminate voided fits. Tuipulotu is a power-based rusher with decent bend and flatten talent but he’s unlikely to win with his get-off alone. He should become a good starter. – NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein

Tuli Tuipulotu is the starting EDGE for USC’s base Nickel defense, aligning both in the dirt and standing up. He played in 32 career games with 29 starts. His brother and multiple cousins have made the NFL after their stops at USC. Tuipulotu has a thick frame, particularly in the lower half, but there is room for improved body composition and adding defined muscle. His upper body possesses plus strength, and while there is a little tightness in his hips, it is not bad for his size. His twitchiness is mostly in his encounters with the offensive linemen rather than in the open field. His motor runs hot and he attacks with violence on the vast majority of plays to create plays throughout the game. – SIS

Tuli Tuipulotu is a solid prospect who put up elite numbers in 2022 while dominating PAC 12 offensive lines. He’s got an excellent pass-rushing bag of tricks as well as an elite first step and is a disciplined and highly intelligent player who’s played to the limit of his physical gifts. However there lies his major criticism, his athletism is far from elite, and when given the chance to dispel his doubters at the combine and the USC pro day he opted not to work out – which at least to us is somewhat concerning. Tuipulotu’s weight is also an issue: 266 lbs is much too small for an interior pro player and so may limit him to a pass-rushing specialist role. Overall following the combine we now consider him to be a third-round NFL draft prospect who will be an early contributor in the pros, but whose upside may be limited. – NFL Draft Buzz

Final Thoughts

I went into this not knowing too much about Tuli Tuipulotu but I came out a fan of his game. He will not be an edge bender like Von Miller but he has size, strength, and violence to his game that intrigues me.

The Broncos have a lot of explosive edge guys who have questions in the run game. Tuipulotu is a different animal and will set the edge and be a violent tackler behind the line of scrimmage. He has a non-stop motor that should get him after the quarterback consistently or at least pressure the passer.

I think he will be an edge rusher at the next level but he does have the potential to bulk back up and be a hand-in-the-dirt defensive player. He did weigh closer to 300 pounds but lost weight to test better at the combine. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has liked these types of players in the past so it is possible he would like to add Tuipulotu to his defense.

It is a deep edge rushing class so it is possible he will be available when the Broncos pick in the third round.

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