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Tuli Tuipulotu okay with playing DT or DE, relies on power either way

One of many interesting players that could play outside or inside at the NFL level

NCAA Football: California at Southern California Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The slow change in the NFL to smaller players that can impact the passing game is mostly complete. Huge defensive tackles and powerful linebackers are generally phased out of the game at this point. Players have figured out how to slim down and speed up as much as possible.

We continue to see weight averages go down and speed scores go up, in general, from the measurements at the NFL combine.

This year’s NFL draft class has a few interesting prospects that may have been considered “tweener” players on the defensive line but are likely to be selected in the first three rounds. Tuli Tuipulotu out of USC is one of those players after his impressive 13.5 sacks last year at USC.

Tuipulotu is expected to measure in at 6’4” and a little less than the 290 pounds he was listed at for this season in college. At that size, NFL teams would quickly think about him as a defensive tackle that could attack from the interior, something the Cleveland Browns desperately need, but the Trojan star holds his weight well and has played primarily defensive end.

At the combine, Tuipulotu noted that he’s open to either spot but enjoys coming off the edge:

Whether it is outside or inside, the USC star knows what his strength is... literally strength through power moves:

At his size, it would be surprising if his goal was to bend the edge instead of using power moves. Having a clear knowledge of your strengths is something that NFL teams will love to see. Tuipulotu presented an impressive physique from the podium including long arms and big hands.

Like Ohio State’s Zach Harrison, Cleveland will be looking hard at a player like Tuipulotu, especially with his versatility. Over the last month, Tuipulotu’s draft stock has seemed to skyrocket after he declared:

If the big Trojan has a good combine, especially with his explosive measurements, we could start to hear about Tuipulotu as a first-round prospect.