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Cowboys 2021 draft prospects: USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu scouting report

Meet USC defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 18 Pac-12 Championship Game - Oregon v USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As you may know, the Cowboys are in massive need of an influx of talent on the defensive side of the football. One position that stands out is defensive tackle, a position that has haunted the Cowboys for what seems like forever. While the Cowboys did get some quality play out of Neville Gallimore in 2020, they are still in need of an upgrade along the interior of the defensive line.

That’s where USC defensive linemen Marlon Tuipulotu comes into play.

Name: Marlon Tuipulotu

School: USC

Height: 6-2

Weight: 308

Class: RS Junior

Position: iDL

Jersey: #93 / #51

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Strengths:

One of the best run-defending defensive tackles in this draft class. Showcases violent hands at the point of attack to control blockers. While playing right around 305 lbs, Tuipulotu plays much bigger than his listed weight would suggest. Plays with great leverage when taking on double teams, and has the ability to beat them as well due to his natural strength, violent hands, and athleticism. For a big-man, Tuipulotu plays with above average athleticism, lateral quickness, and first-step burst when rushing the passer. Though he does rely a lot on his power, Tuipulotu showcased an impressive snatch-pull, bull-rush, and has a motor that never stops. Used his length well versus the run and when rushing the passer. Showed high football IQ on screens and running plays to anticipate play-side movement before others. Rarely ends up on the ground, which is impressive for a sub-315 lb defensive tackle that primarily played the nose tackle position for the Trojans.

Weaknesses:

Pass rush arsenal lacks variety, and at times he struggled to sequence his hands with his lower half. Counters and pass rush plan need continued development, as he lacks the ability to string moves together when his initial planned is stalled. Some may have concerns taking a defensive tackle inside the top 100 that doesn’t have impressive sack production over the course of his career. Had a back injury in 2017 that did require surgery, so medicals will be important for some teams.

Overall Summary:

Some of my favorite defensive tackles in the 2021 draft are guys who are known for their run-defense and high-motor, more than their ability to rush the passer. That’s the case with Marlon Tuipulotu. Tuipulto wins with his power, violent hands, but also has enough athleticism to disrupt zone-blocking schemes, while also providing some quality as a pass rusher. Tuipulotu has the ability to play up-and-down the line in Dan Quinn’s 4-3 scheme, and can provide high-level play at either the 1-tech or 3-tech. Playing primarily as a nose tackle (0-tech, 1-tech) at USC, Tuipulto was asked to do a lot of the dirty work in the USC defense, but his violent hands, dominance against the run, and athleticism when rushing the passer makes him an intriguing day two option for the Dallas Cowboys.

Round Grade:

2

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