Eagles select Marlon Tuipulotu at No. 189 in 2021 NFL draft

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Reuben Frank
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Eagles add more defensive tackle depth in Round 6 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles added USC defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu with the 189th pick in the sixth round, the second interior defensive lineman they’ve selected in this draft. 

They took Milton Williams out of Louisiana Tech on Friday in the third round. 

Tuipulotu — that’s pronounced TOO-ee-poo-LOW-too — is a 6-foot-2, 310-pounder who spent four years at USC and was a three-year starter, piling up 15 tackles for loss and 8 1/2 sacks over the last three seasons. 

In Williams and Tuipulotu, the Eagles have added depth behind starters Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave and veteran backup Hassan Ridgeway, who they re-signed this spring. 

“I feel like this is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Tuipulotu said in a Zoom call Saturday. “You don’t come into a (situation) like this where you have Fletcher Cox as your nose tackle and Javon Hargrave as your 3-technique (very often), so I’ll be excited to learn from those guys and continue to better my game.”

Tuipulotu did not play much in 2017 while dealing with back and knee issues. He became a full-time starter as a red-shirt freshman in 2018, when he recorded 4 ½ sacks, then blossomed into an NFL prospect in 2019 as a sophomore.

This past year he earned first-team All-PAC 12 honors and earned an invite to the Senior Bowl, where he further enhanced his draft status. 

“I was blessed to get the invitation,” he said. “I just wanted to go up there and be a sponge and see what it was like to be coached by an NFL football team and then just try to go out there and show my strengths and prove that I can compete with the best seniors in the country and I felt like I did well.”

Here’s what NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein wrote about Tuipulotu: “He's a little undersized to be an interior run stuffer but makes up for it with excellent use of hands and twitchy upper-body power to jostle and shed blocks. The sack production looks OK, but he is lacking a go-to move and a counter to get quick wins needed along the interior. He will need to add more mass to play nose in the pros but does have the strength and toughness to find reps at the position. Tuipulotu will check all the boxes for personal and football character and could become a solid rotational defender in an even-front scheme.”

Before this draft, the Eagles hadn’t drafted a defensive tackle since Elijah Qualls out of Washington in the sixth round in 2017 and before that Beau Allen in the seventh round in 2014. 

This is the first time they’ve taken two defensive tackles in the same draft since 2006, when they selected Brodrick Bunkley out of Florida State with the 14th pick overall and LaJuan Ramsey — also out of USC — in the sixth round.  

Tuipulotu is the first player the Eagles have drafted out of USC since wide receiver Nelson Agholor in the first round in 2015.