Originally written on cover32 - Steelers  |  Last updated 1/22/15
When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Stephon Tuitt in the second round of last week’s NFL Draft, I sighed. Not because I think it was an awful pick, but because ESPN and NFL Network made it seem like the Steelers were getting the next Brett Keisel or Aaron Smith in Pittsburgh, which they aren’t. They got a player who played at one of the most decorated schools ever, Notre Dame, and was on an outstanding defense that went to the National Championship game in 2012. They got a player who I believe is more of a rotational defensive lineman than a staple of a defense. All in all, I think they drafted a guy with more “name recognition” than a player who has an outstanding on-the-field reptuation. But without further ado, let’s see why I had a fourth-round grade on Tuitt and wasn’t as thrilled with the pick as many were on Friday night. The biggest problem with Stephon Tuitt as football player is that he isn’t a phenomenal athlete. And when you combine that with him being overweight (most people around the league believe he was anywhere from 15 to 20 pounds overweight in 2013) his effectiveness on the field greatly diminishes. But what Tuitt lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in size, length and versatility. He can play multiple positions and can fill different roles on any kind of defensive front. That in itself creates value for him. His power and ability to be disruptive in the running game is what made him a well-known name at Notre Dame. Outside of those strengths, I question the move for Tuitt in the second round. When Tuitt gets tired, he can be easily moved in the run game, despite possessing good size. The same goes for his pursuit and the angles he takes. He will often lose containment and because he isn’t the most athletic player and often can’t make up for his mistake later in the play. This play against BYU in 2012 is a perfect example of this: Tuitt loses containment and doesn’t seal the backside. Even after that, he still has a chance to make the play on a rather slow quarterback deep in the backfield and he gets beat to the edge. Tuitt can be undisciplined at times and needs to learn how to play better as a part of the defense instead of just playing as one single player. The other part of his game that worries me is that his “get off” can be abysmal at times. Whether it’s a lack of athleticism, timing, or him being tired, he can look very lethargic off the snap. Here’s an example of that: With a get-off that slow, he has no chance at making an impact in the passing game. If NFL coaches see this regularly in the NFL, we won’t be seeing him much of him in passing situations. And as you see at the end of this play, Tuitt ends up on the ground a lot. If Tuitt loses his balance often in college, I worry about how he will look against stronger, more athletic lineman. If Tuitt can keep his weight down to about 285 pounds and stay healthy, he will be a productive player in the NFL. If he can’t, I suspect he will just be a rotational player at best who will consistently disappoint teams and coaches. I actually believe his best fit might be as a one-technique in a 4-3 defense (which is maybe why the Steelers drafted him for the eventual switch to the 4-3). But if I’m being honest, I get a very average feel for the player when I watch him on tape, especially in 2013. Tuitt could lose weight and regain his explosion and then we would be having a different discussion. But it will be interesting to see what Tuitt the Steelers get in 2014. The 2012 one is a top 15 player, while Tuitt’s 2013 tape is late round worthy. Tuitt will be the player that makes or breaks this draft for Pittsburgh. POLL: Will Stephon Tuitt make an impact on the Steelers defense this year? You may also be interested in:Why Pittsburgh Steelers fans should temper expectations about Stephon TuittHow much will you see of the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers draft class?Did the Pittsburgh Steelers take one of the 10 biggest steals of the 2014 draft?
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