Summary: Entering the 2013 season, many viewed Tuitt as a potential top-10 pick. He was a big play-maker for the Notre Dame defense in 2012 to help lead the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the National Championship.
As a freshman in 2011, Tuitt had two sacks as a backup to Aaron Lynch, but when Lynch left the program after the season, Tuitt took over as a starter. That turned into a blessing for Notre Dame as Lynch had fallen apart, while Tuitt became a force.
In 2012, Tuitt recorded 12 sacks with 47 tackles, three forced fumbles, one pass break up and a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown (against Navy). Like the rest of the Notre Dame defense, he had a disappointing performance to end the season against Alabama. However, Tuitt played with a hernia in the final two games of the season and clearly wasn't his normal self. Te'o received all the headlines, but Tuitt and Nix were phenomenal for the Fighting Irish.
Tuitt gained a lot of weight over the 2012-2013 offseason following surgery and wasn't as fast or quick-twitch in 2013 as he played around 315-320 pounds. However, he still found a way to make some impact plays in most games. In 2013, the junior totaled 49 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumbles and a pick-six.
Tuitt showed off his athletic ability with some pass pressures and a diving interception for a touchdown against Michigan. He then played well against Arizona State with a strip-sack and other pressures. His best game of the season came against USC. Tuitt dominated the line of scrimmage and had success going against the Trojans' guards and tackles. He recorded seven tackles with two sacks for his first multi-sack game of the year. Tuitt then finished his career well with a strong performance against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl.
In 2012, Tuitt had a combination of power and surprising quickness. He could beat tackles with some speed around the edge and was strong to fight off blocks. Tiutt is a tough-run defender who is hard to move at the point of attack. He holds his gap well and could be a great 3-4 defensive end with his ability to set the edge.
Tuitt has lost the weight since the end of the season, but a stress fracture in his foot knocked him out of the Combine. He has a durability red flag on entering the NFL.
As a pro, Tuitt will be a good run-defender who also contributes in the pass rush. He could have some seasons where his sack total is high in the double digits one year and dipping down into the single digits a year later. Tuitt could use some refinement in his pass-rushing moves, but he has a good bull rush and the strength to shed blocks. It would be nice to see him refine a rip-and-club move. That could set up some speed rushes for him as well.
Tuitt should be a late first-round or early second-round pick. He is a great fit for the defensive line in the NFL. Tuitt can play end or tackle in a 4-3 defense. In a 3-4, he is an ideal five-technique. With Tuitt's versatility, it is hard to see him not going in the top 40 of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Kevin Carter. Carter (6-6, 305) and Tuitt have similar body types. Like Tuitt, Carter was a versatile defensive lineman who could play a variety of spots on the defensive line. Carter had more speed than Tuitt, but both players are tough defenders at the point of attack. In a 14-year career, Carter had four double-digit sack seasons. Most years Tuitt could fall short of 10 sacks, but he could break into the double digits multiple times in his career like Carter did.
NFL Matches: Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Cincinnati, Kansas City, New England, San Francisco
There are a lot of teams that could consider Tuitt in the first round or early in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Bears, Cowboys and Steelers all could draft for the defensive line, but going in the top 20 seems too rich for Tuitt. If any of those teams trade down - a few of them would like to - Tuitt could be a target.
In the 20s, the Packers could consider Tuitt since they only re-signed B.J. Raji to a short-term contract. Tuitt could be a long-term replacement.
Cincinnati lost Michael Johnson in free agency while Geno Atkins is coming off a serious injury. Adding an inside/outside defensive lineman makes sense for the Bengals, but they may not want to do that in the first round. Cincinnati has done a superb job of selecting good defensive linemen on Day 2.
The Chiefs let Tyson Jackson walk in free agency and could use another five-technique. Tuitt would be a good fit, plus Andy Reid has drafted heavy on the defensive line in his career.
New England needs some young talent on its defensive line. Tuitt would be a great fit for Bill Belichick as he has the ability to play multiple positions in a 3-4 and 4-3. That's the exact kind of defender Belichick likes.
San Francisco could also consider Tuitt as an eventual replacement for Justin Smith. The veteran Smith won't be around forever and Tuitt would be a good understudy.