The Los Angeles Chargers have allocated a combined $56 million in total compensation for Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack in the 2023 season. Surprisingly, the standout pass-rusher for the Chargers over the first three games is a rookie second-round draft pick from USC.
Tuli Tuipulotu has emerged as a versatile and productive asset for the Chargers, with head coach Brandon Staley strategically deploying him across the defensive front to create opportunities for Bosa and Mack.
This approach has helped maintain a consistent pass rush for Los Angeles. The Chargers, with a 1-2 record, are set to host the 1-2 Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
With Joey Bosa sidelined due to a hamstring injury early in the season, Tuipulotu has started the last two games and logged a substantial 109 snaps against the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings. Additionally, the rookie has been actively involved in special teams, accumulating 65 snaps.
Remarkably, the 21-year-old Tuipulotu generated an impressive 10 quarterback pressures, boasting a 27% pressure rate, in the Chargers’ recent victory over the Minnesota Vikings. This performance marks the second-highest pressure count by a rookie in a single game during the Next Gen Stats era.
Daniel Jeremiah, on his “Move the Sticks” podcast, declared Tuipulotu as the standout defensive player on the field in that game. He commended Tuipulotu’s performance, highlighting his numerous pressures and a sack, with the potential for even more. Tuipulotu’s versatility and impactful play have made him a highly regarded football player.
Pro Football Focus data reveals that Tuipulotu’s 13 quarterback pressures stand as the most by a rookie edge rusher in the first three games since 2019, a feat achieved by players like Nick Bosa and Josh Allen. Coach Staley acknowledged Tuipulotu’s prowess, emphasizing his ability to rush the passer, defend against the run, and maintain a high-energy motor.
Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 266 pounds, Tuipulotu led the nation in sacks with an impressive 13.5 during his time with the USC Trojans. While his decision not to participate in certain NFL Combine drills raised questions about his athleticism, Tuipulotu has silenced doubters with his on-field performance. He pays tribute to his Tongan heritage with a “T” gesture after each sack and boasts a strong NFL lineage, with relatives Talanoa Hufanga and Marlon Tuipulotu excelling in the league.
An NFL talent evaluator praised Tuipulotu’s instincts, physicality, and versatility, noting his ability to excel across the defensive line and linebacker positions. The Chargers have found in Tuipulotu a valuable asset to bolster their defensive presence.
Through three games, Tuipulotu leads the Chargers with 13 pressures and has accumulated two sacks, ranking second on the team behind Joey Bosa. His combination of power and relentless pursuit of quarterbacks makes him an effective pass-rusher and a formidable force.
Remarkably, eleven other edge rushers were chosen before Tuipulotu in the 2023 draft, including seven in the first round. However, none have matched his productivity as a USC alum. Joey Bosa himself praised Tuipulotu’s dedication, knowledge of the game, and adaptability, hailing him as an exceptional player capable of excelling in any role.