What Was Predicted Before the Draft
Prior to the draft, the Pats organization understood that they most definitely needed to improve their running game after allowing the 3rd-most yard to opposing back last season with 134.1 yard per game allowed. With that said, here was my analysis of Notre Dame defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt and how he could fit into the Patriots system.
“For many people that are directly immersed in the 2014 NFL Draft (me included), many have overshadowed the talent and skill of Notre Dame’s other defensive tackle, Stephon Tuitt. Sure, Louis Nix has been getting all of the attention this off-season, however it is Tuitt who should be ranked higher on the totem pole than he currently is. Recruited by Notre Dame, Tuitt went on to play in nine games his freshman season (starting three of them), while recording 30 total tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and five QB hurries. The next season for Tuitt was perhaps the season that defined his collegiate career.
As sophomore at Notre Dame, Tuitt was able to register 47 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and nine QB hurries. At the end of the season, Tuitt was named to the Bednarik Award Watch List , ESPN.com First Team All-American, Athlon Sports First Team All-American, Sports Illustrated First Team All-American, CBS Sports First Team All-American, Walter Camp Second Team All-American, Pro Football Weekly Honorable Mention All-American, Associated Press Second Team All-American, Sporting News Second Team All-American and Ted Hendricks Award Watch List. One of Tuitt’s best games of the season came against Brigham Young on October 20th, when Tuitt went on to record two sacks and five total tackles in a Notre Dame win. The next season for Tuitt wasn’t as dominant stats-wise, however he was still able to be a huge presence in the Notre Dame defense.
In Tuitt’s junior season at ND, he was able to record 49 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, 7.5 tackles for loss and 13 QB hurries while defending two passes returning an interception back for a touchdown. Nominated for the Bednarik Award Watch List, Tuitt was a beast against 19th ranked USC on October 19th as he went on to record two sacks two QB hurries and seven total tackles as the Fighting Irish went on to win 14-10 over the Trojans. Although Tuitt wasn’t as productive as his sophomore season, he was still a force to be reckoned with this season.
Where Tuitt is so dominating is in his pure size, unnoticed ability and quickness. Behemoth doesn’t even begin to describe the kid out of south Georgia. At 6’5″, 304 pounds, people were definitely surprised when Tuitt was able to run a pre-draft 4.92 40-yard dash time. Every time off the ball Tuitt shows surprising skills and ability to get to the QB even as a defensive tackle. If he was a bit slimmer and shorter, Tuitt would be deadly as a defensive end in the NFL, however at defensive tackle is where he is best; rushing the passer, batting the ball down and be a sure-handed tackler. Another great thing about Tuitt at this year’s draft is his great character and attitude. As a sheriff in Georgia, Tuitt’s mother raised him well and thus will surely translate to Tuitt’s play on the football field. If any NFL team is looking for a strong and built defensive tackle to help with run support, Tuitt is your guy (he benched 31 225-pound reps at the combine). Among his best options, Tuitt is looking at either the Pats or the Broncos who both desperately need help stopping the run next season.”
Although the Patriots did not select Tuitt in the first round of the draft, they did end up selecting some defensive tackle help give the Pats the defensive tackle they needed.