Jets Had Dinner Meeting With 13.5 Sack ‘Star’ Pass Rusher: Report

Tuli Tuipulotu, USC

Getty USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu going through some drills at the 2023 NFL Combine.

The New York Jets are turning over as many stones as they can ahead of the 2023 NFL draft.

Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic shared on Twitter that Gang Green hosted USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu for a dinner meeting.

Rosenblatt categorized him as a “potential second-round target” in April’s draft. Gang Green has two second-round draft choices after the Elijah Moore trade to the Cleveland Browns.

New York holds the No. 42 and No. 43 overall picks respectively, but no longer has a selection in the third round.

A Talented Defensive Piece Could Be Added to the Jets in 2023

Tuipulotu is only 20 years of age and he will turn 21 before the start of the upcoming 2023 season.

He spent three years at USC exponentially getting better each season. During that span of time, he racked up 21 sacks, 32 tackles for loss, five pass deflections, and four forced fumbles.

Much of that was delivered in his final collegiate season in 2022. The talented USC product had a career season in multiple defensive categories the most notable of which was the sack department (13.5). Prior to this season, he had never had a season with more than 5.5.

He stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 266 pounds. NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein said he possesses a “rare blend of size, strength, and athleticism” to line up anywhere upfront on defense whether that be in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.

Zierlein said the big man became a “star” in 2022 and it’s easy to understand why.

He has football blood running through his veins. His brother Marlon played at USC before jumping to the NFL level. Tuli’s cousin, Talanoa Hufanga, is currently playing in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and he played college football at USC. Finally, Fili Moala, another cousin, played with the Trojans before playing at the highest level in the NFL.

Jets Need Some Beef on the Interior

Tuipulotu isn’t your classic space eater on the inside. At only 6-foot-3, 266 pounds he lacks some of those key measurables that you’d prefer upfront.

However, what he may lack in size in run support, he more than makes up for as a pass rusher.

Interestingly Zierlein listed something as a weakness that can also be viewed as a strength. He said that Tuli likes to “freestyle” and sometimes that can cause him to “lose his run fits.”

Although if you view it through a different lens, that football instinct to sort of wing it while you’re on the football field is a rare gift that few possess.

Putting him next to Quinnen Williams on the defensive line would present a lot of creative opportunities for Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.

The NFL is a league that is driven by quarterback play. If you have players that can rush the passer those are a valuable commodity.

Gang Green lost some key depth with Nathan Shepherd signing with the New Orleans Saints and Sheldon Rankins signing with the Houston Texans.

The Jets like having depth upfront to provide injury insurance and so they can rotate that defensive line early and often.

Even if the Jets added him to the rotation that wouldn’t preclude them from adding some other bodies leading up to the start of the 2023 season.

Read More