Southern California Senior
Shows some quickness and nice power that he can jolt the guard or center off the snap and press the pocket. His strength and quickness allows him to consistently get leverage at the point of attack when defending the run. Does a nice job stacking and shedding, and then making a stop in pursuit or working laterally down the line. Can be tough to move off the ball, especially when lined up on an island against the center when working at nose tackle. Has a good motor and keeps working to the football.
Lacks quickness and first step to really be a consistent disruptive presence. Struggles as a pass rusher because he has almost no moves and doesn't know how to use his hands to disengage. Lacks control when rushing upfield. Doesn't always win in short-yardage and against the better centers can get pushed off the ball at nose tackle. Struggles at times to get off blocks because of his poor hand use, and won't get free until several yards downfield. Struggles against double teams and is not a player that has the athleticism or natural feel to play in space.
Tupou is a tough, hard-nosed run defender that plays nose tackle in USC's four-man front. He was typically pulled off the field on obvious passing downs, and his game is limited as a pass rusher. He's a guy that has good strength and can help stuff the run, but he's not a playmaker and is more of a two-gap sort of defender. He's the sort of guy that with his toughness, motor and strength might be able to carve out a niche in a rotation, but he doesn't have the skill or potential to be anything more than a journeyman backup at the next level. His older brother, Fenuki, played at Oregon and is currently a reserve offensive lineman with the New Orleans Saints.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/3) vs. Minnesota: 2.5 stuffs
(9/10) vs. Utah: N/A, no production
(10/13) at California: 0.5 stuffs, 1 pressure
(11/4) at Colorado: 1 stuff, 1 QB hit
2011: 12 GP/12 GS, 16 tackles, 0 TFLs, 0 sacks, 0 INTs, 0 PDs, 0 FF, 0 FR
2010: missed season with torn ACL
Tupou can compete at the NFL level, but his ability to stick will depend heavily on his ability to develop some technique. He's a guy that tends to live and die by his strength, which is very good. He's a raw player that is an effective two-gap run defender because of that strength to be a matchup problem for the lesser centers in college. But in the pros, where the level of competition dramatically increases, he'll struggle. He was never a playmaker in college, so any NFL team that wants him to be that on the next level is going to be sorely disappointed. But in a two-gap, 3-4 scheme, being a disruptor and playmaker isn't typically what is preferred. As a stack and shed guy that can help shield linebackers from blockers, he can potentially be developed. He doesn't have the typical dimensions you look for in a 3-4 lineman, and thus he might be a player that is best bulking up and putting on another 15-20 pounds and becoming a nose tackle there. With his already natural strength, plus another 15-20 pounds of muscle/bulk, he could be an effective rotational player as a 3-4 nose tackle. The comparison I would make is a poor man's Isaac Sopoaga. The difference is that Sopoaga was a much more athletic and more productive coming out of Hawaii 8 years ago than Tupou. And thus, while Sopoaga has carved out a nice niche as a complementary starter at both end and nose tackle in San Fran's 3-4 scheme, Tupou doesn't have that sort of upside. He's more of a guy that can develop down the road into a lesser version of that, a guy that can add depth but be limited as a starter. He should get opportunities because of his strength, motor, and toughness, but I think he could be hard-pressed to make an NFL roster from the get-go. INstead, he's more of a guy that can bounce around some practice squads for a while, until he develops a bit more technique and then be in a position where he can add value as a role player and depth piece.
Tupou would fit more of a two-gap role with the Falcons if Mike Nolan is intent on installing more of a hybrid defense. But Tupou isn't polished or good enough to make the Falcons roster right away. INstead, you look to him as a developmental role player on the practice squad that after a few years of development, particularly if he can add some bulk in the weight room, he could potentially make the Falcons roster down the line as a reserve nose and run stuffer. If the Falcons start to skew more towards a 3-4 team at that point, he can add decent value as a role player.
Tupou isn't worth drafting because of the time it will take to develop him, and even if he does he'll just be a career backup. But for a 3-4 team or a 4-3 team that employs a lot of two-gap principles, he could be a nice pickup as an undrafted free agent and long-term project.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Point of Attack: 6.0
Pass Rush: 2.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.