The draft is quickly approaching, and thus, it is time to start looking at where certain Trojans may be selected! Today's subject: Stevie Tu'ikolovatu.
Tu'ikolovatu was a personal favorite of mine to watch this past season – the icing on the cake being how he essentially manhandled his way to Defensive MVP honors during the 2017 Rose Bowl against Penn State. What we saw in that game is what makes Tu'ikolovatu a solid football player: poise, veteran leadership, and an uncanny ability of clogging up running lanes. Not to mention the fact that Stevie is as influential off the field as he is in the trenches.
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.
Potential Landing Spots
Stevie Tu'ikolovatu will be best-suited on a team that won't need him right away; some team that utilizes a 3-4 defense and has a player who he can sit behind for a year or two just to learn the ropes and improve on some fundamentals.
If I am the Houston Texans or Kansas City Chiefs (a team who, by the way, must replace Dontari Poe on their defensive line) I would make an attempt and snagging Stevie Tu''ikolovatu around the 5th round or so. That's really good value for a player who will see a lot of snaps in the coming years.