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Why the Chargers selected EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu

The Chargers selected USC EDGE Tuipulotu after his impressive 13.5-sack season.

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the 54th pick, the Chargers selected Tuli Tuipulotu. With his first two selections, Tom Telesco has prioritized backfilling the two position groups that saw two restructured contracts each.

Like the Johnston selection, the Chargers had attrition issues at edge rusher in 2022, witnessing Joey Bosa miss most of the season and lacked additional depth after Kyle Van Noy was flexed from his middle linebacker role. With Van Noy gone, and questions about the likelihood of Bosa and Khalil Mack holding up through heavy workloads in 2023, edge rusher was a position Charger fans wanted to see prioritized in this draft. It appears Staley and Telesco felt the same way.

Chris Rumph II’s development has been a little slower than Staley would prefer. Even having upgraded from “string bean to asparagus” body types, he continues to require mass on his frame to be an every-down contributor. This is a concern when Staley calls for his base-nickel set, limiting him to a pass-rush specialist role when Staley’s “Tite Front” is deployed.

Tuli Tuipulotu comes in as another pass-rush specialist that doesn’t sacrifice the mass Staley’s front loses when Rumph is on the field. He has a solid first-step and an arsenal of pass rush moves. However, his overall athleticism is far from elite and rather than put his doubters on notice, he chose not to complete his workouts at the combine. This was a concern for many teams, but a worry Telesco was willing to overlook given Tuipulotu’s production.

In the following highlight reel, Tuli displays versatility and ability to defend against the run and work inside. He is still only 20 years old, so there is reason to believe he can gain some extra weight and be a hybrid EDGE/DE for the Chargers.

In 2022, he actually lined up outside his tackle on 488 snaps, 122 snaps over his tackle, 53 snaps in the B gap, 10 snaps in the A gap, and 60 snaps off ball.

He was highly productive, sacking the quarterback 13 times and adding 6 hits and 37 hurries to his pressure totals. His pass rush win-rate of 19.1% was absolutely dominant, and graded out at 81.0 per PFF.

Tom remains in his wheelhouse by selecting a local player from a school his scouts have familiarity with, who was a high character and high effort captain for his team.

Bolts From The Blue, join me in welcoming Tuli Tuipulotu to the BoltFam.