The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have selected Stevie Tu’ikolovatu with the 223rd pick in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Tu’ikolovatu was a leader on the defensive line for the Trojans last season—a season capped off by some stellar play in the Rose Bowl win over Penn State back in January.
Drafting Tu’ikolovatu is definitely a “value pick” - low risk with the potential for high reward, something we briefly chatted about in our mini-assessment of him:
The first thing to notice about Tu'ikolovatu is the quickness he has with his first step. He has a knack of embarrassing offensive lineman with his strength and violent hands and gets to the point-of-attack quickly while consistently delivering powerful initial strikes; basically you don't want to face him one-on-one. Most of his strengths add up to him most likely becoming a productive nose tackle, a la Dontari Poe (without that high of a ceiling).
Some people look at his age (26) as a downside. With that, though, you are just getting a player that provides more of a seasoned leadership on the defensive side.
Another potential downside to selecting Tu'ikolovatu is how he hasn't handled being double-teamed all that well. In order to be an eventual starter he will need to improve on this.
From our “Ideal Landing Spot” analysis:
“Tu’ikolovatu is the most underrated prospect coming out of USC this season. A thickly-built defensive lineman with grown man strength, Tu’ikolovatu was absolute dominant in the trenches and swallowed up running backs while he plugged up lanes. Tu’ikolovatu is inept at pass-rushing, but would be subject to a rotational piece.... He won’t get much glory, Tu’ikolovatu has a future as a reliable run stuffer in a league who now shifting its focus to young, athletic running backs.”
The big run-stuffer now makes to look his mark in the NFL in a role that, with the an increase in high-producing runningbacks, will become paramount in seasons to come.