Stephon Tuitt – Defensive Tackle
Tuitt is a third-year junior and a two-year starter. He played as a backup his true freshman year. He usually plays as the five-technique in Notre Dame’s 3-4 scheme. When they go to a four-man front on passing downs he lines up both inside and outside.
Tuitt has excellent five-technique size at about 6060, 323 pounds with very long arms. In 2012, he played at closer to 312 and looked quicker and more athletic than he did this year. Following the 2012 season, Tuitt had surgery to repair a sports hernia, and because of that, he entered the 2013 season a bit overweight and out of shape. That showed in his play during the early part of the season. There are some close to the Notre Dame program that will tell you that Tuitt was not the best when it came to attacking rehab.
Despite his size, Tuitt has very good straight line quickness and speed. It would not shock me to see him run in the 4.78 – 4.80 range at the Combine. I'm concerned that despite having speed and quickness, he is also tight in his knees and hips. His body control and change of direction are average compared to his speed. Tuitt plays tall and can have some trouble clearing piles when moving laterally in traffic. It’s surprising how many times you see him lose his balance and end up on the ground during the course of a game. Still, he flashes big play ability. In 2012, he had an 80+ yard interception return for a TD, and this year, had a diving interception for a TD vs Michigan. He can come up with some "wow" plays every game. The problem is, for every top play, there are too many where he does nothing. Tuitt is not what I would call an "every down" competitor.
Against the run, Tuitt can be stout. Though he can play tall, he is very strong and can hold the point. He flashes quick shed ability and shows he can make plays for loss or at the line of scrimmage. If he has the angle, he can make some pursuit plays. You just don’t see enough of them. As a pass rusher he, again, flashes. Tuitt almost always takes an outside charge or bull rush. If he can beat his opponent with his first step, he has a good outside charge. Because he lacks top bend, you don’t see him show the ability to lower his shoulder and get under his opponent. The other thing you don’t see is counter moves. I have rarely seen him redirect and try to come back across his opponents face. He is very good as a bull rusher because of his power and shows he can walk a tackle back to the QB.
Tuitt has some athletic limitations, but he is still very talented. He would be best as a five-technique at the next level but, he may also be a capable 4-3 tackle. He may even be able to play left end in some 4-3 schemes. What Tuitt has to do is develop down-after-down consistency and learn to play with bend. After the 2012 season, I would have bet that he was going to be a top pick when he came out, but the 2013 season was a disappointment to me. He did not play up to his ability. Still, at the defensive tackle position, many teams look at the talent and not the consistency. For that reason, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him taken as high as 20 or as low as 40. He will be an interesting guy to track as a pro.