Bears Draft Target: Tuli Tuipulotu
Kiyoshi Mio - USA Today Sports

Bears Draft Target: Tuli Tuipulotu

by - Senior Writer -

After finishing the 2022 season with a 3-14 record, the Chicago Bears have the No.1 pick in the NFL draft, in addition to seven other selections. Also, Chicago will likely take advantage of the opportunity to trade back, accumulating more picks in this year’s draft.

If you thought Siaki Ika had one of the best names in this year's draft, take a look at the former USC product Tuli Tuipulotu as he may have something to say about that. A multi-year starter for a Trojans defense did struggle under first-year head coach Lincoln Riley. Tuipulotu is a tweener with great pass-rush ability. To be a successful three-technique in a 4-3 defense, he’ll need to add weight and play strength which is something Matt Eberflus and Alan Williams would address immediately.

While Tuipulotu is not a first-round talent by any means, he is a guy that could fall to the Bears in round three or perhaps round four as the Bears will be looking to add depth across the board. Unlike the previous DTs we discuss, Tuipulotu is a bit undersized for the position as he stands at 6-4 but is only 290 pounds. For him to be successful in the NFL, he will need to get to at least 300 pounds.

Although he lacked the size you like to see from an interior lineman, the overall production he brought to the table was outstanding, as he finished with 116 tackles, 21 sacks, and four forced fumbles. If 2022 is any indication of how good this kid can be, the Bears would be foolish for not taking him as he picked up 46 tackles, two pass breakups, and 13.5 sacks last season. That is not only great production for a DT but great production for any defensive player as he came out of nowhere last season.

Given his lack of size, Tuipulotu has had to find different ways to get after the QB and uses great counter moves and an impressive spin move to get the job done. His spin move is by far the best in this year's class, and often has offensive linemen seeing double when it happens.

Tuipulotu is the definition of a high-motor player who has great stamina on the field and makes those hustle plays that you love to see. Throw in his explosiveness out of his stance to attack the gap, and he is a matchup nightmare for a lot of offensive linemen, as they have had a tough time containing him.

Looking at his numbers and comparing them to some of the more elite DTs in this year's draft, you could argue that Tuipulotu has the best numbers and should be in the same conversation as them. His big issue is the size, as he looks even smaller than his listed 290 size. That has caused an issue in the running game as he gets pushed out of the way on run-blocking plays.

When it comes to the Bears and their lack of run-stopping ability last season, those are not words that you like to hear. The biggest mystery surrounding Tuipulotu at this point is an unclear position at the next level, as his playing weight makes him a mystery. It is unclear if he can even add weight to become an interior defensive lineman.

That may not be a problem, however, as he could drop a few pounds and become an EDGE rushing LB. Looking at the lack of sacks the Bears had a season ago, that is worth nothing also, as he could help them in that area as well. Having a great Edge rusher is a huge part of the Eberflus scheme, and this player will have the speed and quickness to rush the passer and the strength needed to hold their gap against the run.

Tulipulotu is a young player with the potential to be a pass-rushing specialist in an Eberflus system. However, he’s a developmental prospect whose immediate impact would be on third down or in a nickel package as a pass rusher. Given the Bears' need for more QB pressure, developmental or not, this is a player that fans should be keeping tabs on as we move closer to the NFL draft.

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