By Alex Kozora
Our focus has shifted to the offseason and for the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on several draft prospects. Some of these players the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at and others will be top players that will be off the board before they select. All to make you as prepared as possible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
A look today at Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
Stephon Tuitt/DE Notre Dame: 6’5 304
– Definitely looks the part, fills out his frame well
– Tremendous length (34 3/4 arms, third longest of DL at the Combine)
– Quality strength and holds point of attack well against the run
– Works to get his long arms extended, keeping OL at bay
– Quick hands and ability to shed blockers
– Great athlete for his size, fluid
– Will show a quick first step
– Impactful pass rusher, especially late in game when he can pin his ears back
– Potent swim move
– Shows strength and leverage for an effective bull rush
– Solid motor
– Productive career
– First step is inconsistent and times where he seems sluggish
– Wears down late in games, limiting him as a pass rusher and causing him to pop up
– Some stiffness around the edge
– Relies on speed move too often and doesn’t always use hands well enough as a pass rusher
– Can get locked up as a pass rusher, must work on his arsenal
– Will miss one too many tackles, has to finish plays
– 28 career starts
– 2012-2013: 22 TFL 19.5 sacks
– Two-time 1st Team All-Independent Selection
– First Team All-American by numerous outlets in 2012, 2nd Team AP
– Left school after junior season, will be just 21 by training camp
– Saw time at both defensive end spots, situational DT
– Had hernia surgery during the offseason prior to 2013, bothered him throughout the year
First thing you notice about Tuitt is his size. Has a Richard Seymour/Cameron Heyward build already at age 20. Dude is built and has actually lost weight. Began the year around 322, weighed in at 304 at the Combine. Likely in order to regain some of the quickness he may have lost while fighting through his hernia injury.
Has similar flashes of being a disruptive pass rusher like the aforementioned two.
Quick hands to throw the tackle aside and bring down the QB. Tuitt is the left end, #7.
Bull rush to walk the right tackle back, create pressure, and force an INT that is returned for six late in the game against Arizona St.
Still to show the arm extension he gets, another one of his strengths. Puts those nearly 35 inch arms to work in both facets.
Though using his bull rush more often is something he needs to do. Strong upper body and needs to utilize it.
Best part of Tuitt that will make him a great asset as a five tech is how he plays the run. Strong and holds the point well. Rarely got washed in the four games I saw him. Never happened in a power scheme and was only occasionally pushed down the line against zone concepts. Gets his arms extended, making it easier for him to shed.
This tackle against USC encapsulates his athleticism and hustle. From the backside, takes a proper angle across the field, and brings the back down.
Some of the issues he had on tape could easily stem from the hernia that plagued him throughout the year. If the surgery hindered his ability to workout and subsequently his conditioning, the fact he tired late in games makes sense.
Does rely on his speed rush a bit too much. Can beat slower tackles around the edge but is just as prone to getting stuck and pushed upfield.
Failing to use his hands well enough as a pass rusher can cause him to get locked up.
First step seems to run hot and cold, too. Here, Louis Nix beats him off the ball.
And sometimes pops up too high off the ball. Minor complaint and didn’t see it too often but still worth noting.
Played extensively at both defensive end spots and kicked inside to defensive tackle on some third downs.
With the team losing Ziggy Hood and Al Woods, you can bet the Steelers will be linked to the top five techs, Tuitt included. From the little I’ve seen about where he’s projected to go, 15 seems high. But Tuitt is a perfect five tech, especially as they’ve started to evolve into a bigger pass rushing threat than pure run stuffers. Isn’t a full grown man yet and going to get better as he gets older and becomes full year removed from his surgery.
Projection: Late First
Games Watched: at Arizona St, vs USC, at Stanford, vs Rutgers (Bowl)
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Stanford ILB Shayne Skov/a>
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner
Boston College RB Andre Williams
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers
Colorado State DE/OLB Shaquil Barrett
Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio
Tennessee T Antonio Richardson
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
West Virginia DE Will Clarke
Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
Virginia T Morgan Moses