2021 NFL Draft: Jay Tufele is top-tier defensive line prospect

2021 NFL Draft prospect Jay Tufele (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
2021 NFL Draft prospect Jay Tufele (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Jay Tufele declares for the 2021 NFL Draft and stands out as one of the premier prospects at his position.

On Wednesday, USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele opted out of the upcoming college football and declared his intention to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. With the Pac-12 opting to move their season back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is hardly a surprise, as Tufele stands out as a player who will undoubtedly be in the first-round conversation.

Tufele first burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2018, where he played in 12 games with five starts, piling up 23 total tackles (4.5 for loss) and three sacks. He was a first-team freshman All-American, second-team All Pac-12 selection and was named USC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year despite not even being a full-time starter.

Last season, Tufele started all 13 games for the Trojans and took his game to the next level. He finished the year with 41 total tackle (5.5 for loss) and 3.5 sacks. In 2019, he was a first-team All Pac-12 selection and was once again named USC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Tufele played on the nose, as a one-tech and a three-tech defensive lineman in the middle of the USC defense. He is a big and strong defensive tackle who is impressive at the point of attack and shows extremely powerful hands at all times.

When looking at Tufele, he appears to be a power-based player who would particularly shine against the run. However, do not sleep on his ability to move. Tufele gets off of the ball quickly and does a great job of getting penetration through his gap. He is a quick and explosive interior player who will create consistent pressure on the interior at the next level.

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Simply put, Tufele is a strong and stable player who also flashes some impressive upside as an interior rusher. Tufele is also a high-motor player who never gives up on the play and will command consistent attention from the opposing offensive line. He is extremely difficult to block with a single player and will make an impact on nearly every play no matter what he is asked to do.