2014 NFL Draft Player Profiles – Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt

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

The Good

– 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

– Versatile

– Productive career

The Bad

– 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

Other

– 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

Tape Breakdown

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.

Tuitt1_zps45e9b9b3

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.

Tuitt2_zps0bf4ba30

And sometimes pops up too high off the ball. Minor complaint and didn’t see it too often but still worth noting.

Tuitt3_zpsf7e5fae0

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

Senior in college, blogging from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • srdan

    I don’t see him making it past the titans and falling to 46, but I would love to get this kid in pittsburgh. Our OLBs have always only been as good as our ends. When we had Kemo, aaron and Kiesel firing on all cylinders, our defense was near the top of the league.

  • James Kling

    Also, Tuitt is 20 (cf., Hagemann, 24). That IMO is a plus.

  • Biggie

    I really like this guy, he figures to go in later half of first. The knocks he gets I think are unjust because before last season he had a sports hernia and had surgery and was unable to be in his best shape at the start of the season so the critics jump in force on him being slower, but as the season progressed he got better and better. He will be a force in the pros early. I’d love to have him in Pittsburgh playing opposite Heyward and would have no problem taking him at 15 but think we could drop back a little and still get him and pick up a pick or two.

  • srdan

    Huge plus. These guys play forever.

  • srdan

    Not flashy, but it would work. 15 is high, but i wouldnt be opposed to it.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I really like him…he is my man crush on this years draft…I would not be surprised if he goes mid 1st in all honesty

  • Chad H

    He looks the part and I believe he will be Heyward part 2. He is a guy to target if we move back in the 1st rd.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    So out of 28 starts he had almost 20 sacks thats not bad at all depending on the talent he faced but being only 20 he has a high ceiling once hes coached up man i wish we didnt have so many holes to fill because this may have been a no brainer

  • Derick L Young

    Hagemann a 5 tech DE? how so?

  • Derick L Young

    now I was conversing with some Steelers fans that actually would draft this kid @ 1.15. crazy? no, they were serious.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Would like a cb in first and dt in mid to late rds but if we go with dt i wouldnt be upset at all

  • Derick L Young

    People complained they drafted DE’s LATE in the first and now they want one with the 15th pick overall? wow crazy crazy!

  • 20Stoney

    I’ve gotta say that play where he runs the USC back down from across the field is impressive.

  • steeltown

    Trade back… Tuitt, Fuller, Benjamin, Ealy and Nix are all possible trade back options

  • dgh57

    Fans complained about Hood because he wasn’t a true 5-technique DE whereas Tuitt is. They’ll probably trade back if they want Tuitt.

  • Brendon Glad

    He has had me intrigued for a couple of weeks now. And that was assuming that either Woods or Hood or both would be slow to receive other offers. So I think the Steelers will be heavily in play there. He does resemble Aaron Smith in body and movement ability. I would not be surprised if the Steelers can’t wait, if he’s available at the beginning of round 2…and move up in round 2, if Carrington signs elsewhere. And even if he signs with Steelers, I still think they would jump at Tuitt if he fell to them in second. It just probably would mean they would wait and hope.

  • Brendon Glad

    But we know that DE CB are big priorities…so if Cotchery walks but Carrington sighs…DE probably moves down in priority and WR moves up…so that could make Tuitt less likely even if he fell. I’m sure it would be a “tough-pass” in mid-second.

  • Derick L Young

    I see fans wanting Hageman and Ealy and neither are 5 tech DE’s. Heck, Ealy is more an OLB than a DE in this defense.

  • Derick L Young

    I think that is right. Just have to wait and see what happens before the draft.

  • Ike Evans

    The thing about tuitt is when you look at his tape from a year b4 last and you go….wow…this kid is a top 15 guy…..he got hurt, and it was a injury that did not allow him to do a lot of working out so he gained weight. He wasn’t as explosive last year playing 320 and honestly last years stephon tuitt is a second round prospect but if he can stay around 300 that Stephon tuitt is easily a top 15 pick….depends on what weight he’s playing at

  • Derick L Young

    That will be a huge mistake to take Tuitt with the 15th overall pick. JMO

  • Ike Evans

    Y?

  • Derick L Young

    A likely scenario, Dennard, Gilbert, Evans, maybe Ebron (some people like) all could be there and you want Tuitt…. I don’t see how he impacts the team better than any of those players and maybe others. Now trading back is fine but I am just strictly talking about the 15th pick. How many 5 tech DE’s, that are a top player at the position, got drafted @ 1.15? Not saying he is not a good player or anything. I am saying that would be terrible value and I don’t see the Steelers doing that. That is a typical fan draftee for need. JMO

  • Ike Evans

    Its just as likely Justin gilbert, mike Evans, and darqueze dennard are all gone. Then what?

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    While we do need help at DE, we can get by, but Ike will get roasted if left outside, they need to take a corner higher than DE.

  • harding36

    The true 5 tech guys always fall. I’m not sure why. Wilkerson was a stud and fell. Same with Heyward.

  • Chad H

    Can’t move up and lose picks in this draft. It’s too deep and we have too many holes to fill.

  • Paddy

    Nice job Alex as always

  • Derick L Young

    all of this will have to unfold during the draft. if all of their guys are gone(doubt that happens) then most likely look to trade back.

  • steeltown

    Oh man!!!!! YEA! This KID opposite Heyward, very nice!

    and only 21yrs old

  • Big White

    22 TFL & 19.5 sacks in 2012-2013. Impressive. Probably drew a ton of doubles.

  • http://batman-news.com MC

    Definitely can’t say the steelers reached for some of these picks.