The Los Angeles Chargers have a history of adding local players who could do some damage in the NFL Draft, and Tom Telesco adhered to that policy one more time when he used his second-round draft choice on USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu.
With Khalil Mack potentially departing after this season and the interior of the defensive line in need of some reinforcements, adding a Trojan like Tuipulotu, that can fill both of those roles with a great deal of aplomb, makes sense for Brandon Staley.
While he would have been a terrific prospect if he went to a Division II school in Alaska, the fact that the LA kid gets to stay local to continue his professional career has to be a nice touch. Tuipulotu himself seemed as hyped up as anyone to be a Charger.
Tuipulotu is thrilled to represent his hometown team and loves the fact that his family is close enough to come to all of his home games. Tuipulotu, who is Tongan, said that he is relishing the chance to play in front of his very large, vibrant Tongan community in Los Angeles.
Tuli Tuipulotu will get Chargers fans excited.
Born in Hawthorne and a product of Lawndale High School, Tuipulotu put up 13 sacks during his final season at USC. At 290 pounds, Tuipulotu is likely going to be viewed as either an oversized edge that causes problems on the outside or a bigger defensive tackle with pass rush upside.
Tuipulotu is a bit of a tweener due to his size, as the 290-pounder was viewed by most teams as too small for full-time interior defensive line work and too slow to line up on the edge. Staley needs to pick a path in order for Tuipulotu's skills to be fully unleashed for a contender at the NFL level in the next few years.
Staley has a history of getting the most out of players like Tuipulotu, as he was an outside linebackers coach in Denver before helping another undersized defensive tackle in Aaron Donald have arguably the best season of his career. Tuipulotu's ceiling is not that high, but he could be in for a big rookie year bump.
Going to USC does not immediately guarantee that he will be a success in the NFL, but landing in a comfortable situation close to his old stomping grounds might help him adjust to the speed of the pro game quicker.