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Four Trojans selected in Saturday’s 2021 NFL Draft

After three nervous days for the USC Trojans eligible for the 2021 NFL draft, four got the dream-like phone call on Saturday that they were selected into the National Football League.

Saturday’s happy former Trojans included DL Jay Tufele (Jacksonville/cover photo above- No. 78), WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (Detroit), S Talanoa Hufanga (San Francisco), and Marlon Tuipulotu (Philadelphia), Here is how the aforementioned Men of Troy were drafted on Saturday’s final draft day.

Fourth Round

DL Jay Tufele (No. 106 overall) – Jacksonville Jaguars

For former 2019 All-Pac-12 defensive tackle Jay Tufele (Salt Lake CityUtah/ Crescent Valley HS), who opted out of playing for the Trojans in 2020, he’ll be part of the remaking of the Jacksonville Jaguars under new head coach and former college coaching legend Urban Meyer.

Tufele is part of an impressive list of Jaguar picks, which included first-round No. 1 overall selection quarterback Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne (R1/Clemson), CB Tyson Campbell (R2/Georgia), OL Walker Little (R2/Stanford), S Andre Cisco (R3/ Syracuse), DE Jordan Smith (R4/ UAB, TE Luke Farrell (R5/Ohio St.), and WR Jalen Camp (R6/Georgia Tech).

ESPN Pre-Draft Analysis: Tufele shoots his hands inside and has the upper-body strength to stack blockers. He has a good motor and good range. He flashes active hands, but there’s still room to grow as a hand fighter and he doesn’t have great change of direction rushing the passer.   

WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (No. 112 overall) – Detroit Lions

Former Trojans wide receiver Amon-Ra St Brown (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei HS) will be part of first-year head coach Dan Campbell’s revamping of the Detroit Lions offense, which recently acquired former Rams quarterback Jared Goff while sending former Lions’ QB Matt Stafford to Los Angeles.

St. Brown will be joining a Detroit draft that include OL Penei Sewell (R1/Oregon), DT Levi Onwuzurike (R2/Washington), DT Alim McNeil (R3/NC State), CB Ifeatu Melifonwu (R3/Syracuse), ILB Derrick Barnes (R4/Purdue), and RB Jermar Jefferson (R7/Oregon State).

ESPN Pre-Draft Analysis: St. Brown has good hands with solid body control, and he wins 50-50 balls even though he doesn’t have great size or length. He lacks the second gear to take the top off the coverage and pull away after the catch.

Fifth Round

S Talanoa Hufanga (No. 180 overall) – San Francisco 49ers

The former 2020 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Talanoa Hufanga (Corvallis, Ore./Crescent Valley HS) will be coming to the surging San Francisco 49ers under head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Talanoa is part of a 49ers draft list that includes QB Trey Lance (R1/North Dakota St.), OG Aaron Banks (R2/Notre Dame), RB Trey Sermon (R3/Ohio State), CB Ambry Thomas (R5/Michigan), OG Jaylon Moore (R5/W. Michigan), CB Deommodore Lenoir (R5/ Oregon), and RB Elijah Mitchell (R6/Louisiana).

ESPN Pre-Draft Analysis: Hufanga is at his best playing close to the line of scrimmage. He’s an active run-defender who rallies to the ball and flashes as a pass-rusher. He reads the quarterback and flashes above-average ball skills in coverage but is tight with below-average top-end speed.

Sixth Round

DL Marlon Tuipulotu (No. 189 overall) – Philadelphia Eagles

Former Trojans All-Pac-12 defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu (Independence, Ore./Central HS) was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round and should be appreciated by the rabid Philadelphia fan base and first-year head coach Nick Sirianni for his constant motor.

Tuipulotu is part of an Eagles draft ,which includes WR DeVonta Smith (R1/Alabama), C Landon Dickerson (R2/Alabama), DT Milton Williams (R3/Louisiana Tech), CB Zech McPhearson (R4/Texas Tech), RB Kenneth Gainwell (R5/Memphis), DE Tarron Jackson (R6/Coastal Carolina), and OLB Patrick Johnson (R7/Tulane).

ESPN Pre-Draft Analysis: Tuipulotu is an effective run-defender with the upper-body strength to stack and shed blockers. He tracks the ball well and his motor jumps out at times. Tuipulotu is not a polished hand fighter, and he has average change of direction. He also stalls out too much rushing the passer.

The Trojans had a three-day total of five players drafted when you include OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, who on Thursday night was selected in the first round as the No. 14th pick overall by the New York Jets.

On Thursday night, offensive tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker (photo above) was drafted in the first round and 14-pick by the New York Jets.

Having not been selected in the three days of drafts, Trojans who went the undrafted free agent route include wide receiver Tyler Vaughns (Indianapolis Colts) and corner Olaijah Griffin (Buffalo Bills).    

    



Greg Katz
Author
Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.


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