Lack of an interior pass rush crippled the Las Vegas Raiders defense last year, so a defensive prospect such as USC’s Marlon Tuipulotu could help.
It’s entirely plausible that the Raiders’ interior defensive line will have a complete makeover this offseason. Last season, the unit wasn’t able to generate much pressure despite Rod Marinelli’s addition as the defensive line coach. Maliek Collins was a free-agent bust despite the preseason hype he got due to his connection to Marinelli. Meanwhile, Johnathan Hankins was a force in stopping the run but lacked as an interior pass rusher. Drafting Tuipulotu could be game-changing now that the Raiders defense is finally under a competent coordinator in Gus Bradley.
During his time as a Trojan, the six-foot-three, 305-pound defensive lineman dominated the Pac-12. Statistically, Tuipulotu accumulated 15 tackles for a loss, eight and a half sacks, and two forced fumbles. In addition, he amassed 49 solo tackles and three passes defensed in 30 career games.
Should the Raiders take a chance on Tuipulotu?
Pro Football Focus has Tuipulotu graded as one of the better defensive tackles this year. Overall, PFF graded him 74.9, in run defense, he came in at 69.2 while his pass rush graded out at 73.7 for the season. His coverage grade is an impressive 69.3, this is due to his ability to lateral speed and movement, you can see in his film he displays a high motor, chasing down ball carriers. His ability to disrupt both running lanes and create havoc in the backfield for quarterbacks is sorely missing in Las Vegas.
Tuipulotu’s potential value as one of the two defensive tackles on the Raiders’ front four would be ideal, especially if they sign a premier free agent. Another way the Raiders could go about this is by drafting both Tuipulotu and let’s say, Christian Barmore. In theory, this would work if another EDGE rusher is signed via free agency. What are your thoughts on Tuipulotu, Raider Nation?
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*Top Photo: Associated Press/Mark J. Terrill