By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Tuipulotu did not have a huge role as a freshman, recording 22 tackles and two sacks. In 2021, he showed improvement, taking over a starting job and totaling 48 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two passes defended. Tuipulotu was one of the nation’s best defenders in 2022, ripping off 13.5 sacks, 46 tackles, two forced fumbles and two passes defended.
In the pass rush, Tuipulotu is quick off the edge using a good first step to fire upfield. He fires off the ball and uses his quickness to get upfield. With active hands, Tuipulotu chops blockers off of him, using speed to power to shed blocks before closing on the quarterback. On top of his speed, Tuipulotu has a strong bull rush and can ride offensive tackles back into the quarterback. Tuipulotu will give a second effort and rush hard through the whistle.
Tuipulotu has some stiffness and can struggle to dip his hips to redirect to the quarterback. As a rusher, he has versatility to move inside and go against guards. The junior can play end on base downs and slide inside to tackle in the sub package.
In the ground game, Tuipulotu is a physical defender at the point of attack. He is tough and difficult to move in the ground game. Tuipulotu holds his gap well and possesses the strength to work off blocks. With his quality lateral anchor and good leverage, offensive linemen struggle to move Tuipulotu. He will take on and shed blocks to get in on tackles, which helps produce quality down-and-distance situations.
Tuipulotu could be a first- or second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. If he slips out of Round 1, he should go in the early picks of Day 2.
Player Comparison: Leonard Williams. Tuipulotu looks like a poor-man’s version of Williams. Williams is more athletic and slightly bigger, but Tuipulotu is similar in terms of being an edge defender with quickness and flexibility to play inside.
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