Fast-Rising USC Draft Prospect Sounds Off on Rams Possibility

Tuli Tuipulotu

Getty Tuli Tuipulotu does a feet shuffling drill at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine on March 2, 2023 in Indianapolis.

The Los Angeles Rams were among the 32 teams that witnessed Tuli Tuipulotu show off his leaner frame and versatility at USC Pro Day on Tuesday, March 21.

Tuipulotu emerged as one of the standout performers at the rain-soaked Allyson Felix Field — showcasing his get off after the snap, spin move and even his feet and eyes in dropping back in coverage…proving he’s much more than an edge rusher. That kind of versatility has to be an eye-grabber for a Rams defense that not only is needing edge representatives, but runs a scheme that calls for versatility.

But does the 6-foot-4, 268-pounder — who played at 290 during his final campaign — envision himself remaining in L.A. and bolstering the Rams defense? He spoke about that possibility with reporters as the rain fell after his workout.

“It’d be an honor to stay in L.A. My whole family is out here,” Tuipulotu shared.

However, the cousin of San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl safety Talanoa Hufanga gave himself this prediction.

“But most likely I’m going to get out of L.A,” Tuipulotu said. “I don’t know…I just have a feeling that I’m going to move so far away. I’ve been in L.A. my whole life.”

USC Star Did Describe Possibly Playing With One Future Hall of Famer as a ‘Blessing’

Tuipulotu is ruling out staying in L.A. judging by how his draft process has gone. He shared that his most recent teams he conversed with were the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has two future visits lined up with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

Still, a lot can happen come April 28. Back on St. Patrick’s Day, Tuipulotu was projected to fall to No. 67 to the Denver Broncos by USA Today. Bleacher Report, though, gave him a second round grade while comparing him to Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan.

It’s still not guaranteed he’ll be a day one draft pick — as his wide receiver teammate Jordan Addison is the Trojan projected to go in day one. That doesn’t officially mean he’s completing writing off the Rams…especially if he’s available at No. 36 or still around at No. 69 in the third round.

“But if I play in L.A., it’ll be a blessing to play with A.D,” Tuipulotu said.

That would be Aaron Donald, the Rams’ leading trench defender since 2014 and one who has impacted defenders who lined up next to him before — a la Leonard Floyd, Dante Fowler, Michael Hoecht, Greg Gaines and even took pressure off Von Miller during his run inside the “Rams House.”

Breakdown: He’s a Fit for ‘Rah’

If the Rams can turn a natural defensive tackle like Hoecht into a stand-up edge rusher who drops back into coverage, they should have no problem inserting Tuipulotu into the defense ran by Raheem Morris.

Already, “Rah’s” defense calls for versatility — which has often seen Donald line up as a wide-9 defensive end or plugged Jalen Ramsey at safety and the slot defender. Miller and Floyd were additionally called to do multiple things under Morris, including placing their hands in the dirt as defensive ends. Tuipulotu was on a defense that had him lining up in multiple spots — including sliding inside:

Tuipulotu is already open to the idea of playing in more than one area for his next defense.

“I’m down to do whatever the team wants me to do. If they want me standing up and drop (into coverage), I’ll drop. If they want me to put my hand down and go inside, I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I did a lot of different stuff this past season, so whatever they want me to do,” he said.

The Rams have many positions to address come April 28. Tuipulotu is a believer he won’t be an L.A. resident after April. But still, him being a Swiss Army-knife defender makes him ideal inside the “Rams House.”

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