Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame (HT: 6’5” WT: 304 lbs)
NFL Comparison: Tyson Jackson, DE, Kansas City Chiefs
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- Endowed with a massive frame to continue building on.
- Carries his weight very well, sneaky athleticism in the open field.
- An agile and smooth athlete.
- Disciplined player with sufficient play-recognition ability.
- Quick hands that aid an effective swim move.
- Keeps space to take advantage of blockers who lunge into contact and don’t maintain balance.
- Has developed skillful, effective finesse moves as a pass-rusher.
- Can bend a little bit for a 6’6”, 300-plus-pound rusher.
- Rushes with a high motor to chase mobile quarterbacks and has impressive stamina.
- Tough to move from the point of attack due to sheer size if he doesn’t take himself out of plays.
- Keeps his head up and generally finds the football well.
- Impressive length to get his hands on ball-carriers between the tackles, gets in on a lot of stops.
- Makes plays down the line of scrimmage as a run defender, productive in pursuit.
- Highly productive for two seasons in terms of sacks and tackles for loss.
- Far from maxed out as a prospect, has a high ceiling.
- Played from a variety of alignments during his time on the Irish defensive line.
- Doesn’t play with the functional strength his size would suggest.
- Comes off the ball popping straight up instead of firing into contact with low pads.
- Was the last lineman off the ball a decent amount of the time for the Irish, quickness in his get-off is lacking.
- Balance on contact is an issue, ending up on the ground too often.
- Feet aren’t sufficiently quick in short areas and he tends to stop them too often.
- Loses hand battles at the line of scrimmage by being overly passive.
- Rarely incorporates significant power into pass rushes to press the pocket, even from the interior.
- Doesn’t deliver a blow with his hands to get blockers off-balance.
- Can get locked up by technical run-blockers, little power or violence in his hands to shed blocks.
- Doesn’t show significant burst away from contact when he does create space for himself.
- Can too easily be rooted out of plays when he tries to shoot gaps or set an edge.
- Needs to more consistently finish tackles and get ball-carriers to the ground by wrapping and driving.
- Had issues managing his weight after offseason surgery that lingered all season.
- A 4-star recruit and No. 90 in the ESPN 150 in 2011.
- Started three games as a true freshman before winning a starting job as a sophomore and becoming a consensus All-American.
- 247Sports.com reports that he played at around 303 pounds as a sophomore, had hernia surgery before junior season and ballooned to 322 pounds.
- SI.com notes that he received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board before declaring in January after his final game.
For all the physical talent Stephon Tuitt has, he hasn’t developed the finer skills of defensive line play. The drop in his production after weight gain further proves his reliance on natural ability, which can only go so far.
His track record as an impact defender on Saturdays will entice teams to take a chance on his size and athleticism. He projects best as a 5-technique in an odd front or in the role of a Red Bryant-type player in an even front.
Draft Projection: 3rd-4th Round.