Injuries and opt-outs will leave the USC Trojans short-handed in this year’s Cotton Bowl but they still have plenty of talent to compete with the Tulane Green Wave, and Tulane has a few NFL Draft prospects of their own who will be on display for Las Vegas Raiders fans.
Below is a look at the top 300 prospects who will be playing this afternoon from each school, according to NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board.
Tuli Tuipulotu, DL (No. 49)
Career stats (three seasons): 114 total tackles (65 solo), 31 TFL, 20 sacks, 5 PD, 4 FFs
NMDD draft projection as of 12/31: 3rd round
Scouting report via TheDraftNetwork.com (full report)
Tuli Tuipulotu has a powerful build to play along the defensive front. He’s grown into his body well and looks like a pro-ready player based on how dense he is all the way through. I thought he came on nicely throughout the season in 2021 after serving as a rotational player with a handful of starts in 2020 during the COVID-19-shortened season. You got a good contrast of skills against different styles of offense between the Stanford, Washington State, UCLA, Utah, and BYU games; he showcased alignment diversity to play in different spots and fulfill different roles for multiple fronts. He’s got heavy hands and the ability to really shock blockers to win knockback at the point of attack—I thought some of his best reps in gap control came head-up on offensive tackles with stunning upfield push. He’s got a pretty hot motor, too. He looks to spin off blocks and double back into the flow of the football. He’s made a handful of secondary plays that weren’t initially there for the taking. One of my favorite such plays came against Washington State on a fourth-down QB run in the low red zone. He collapsed initially to squeeze his gap and peeled back off reactively to square up and absorb the quarterback for a run stuff. This is a violent hitter who absorbs contact from ball carriers effortlessly.
Dorian Williams, LB (No. 2)
Career stats (four seasons): 299 total tackles (186 solo), 27 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 13 PD, 2 FFs
NMDD draft projection as of 12/31: 7th round
Scouting report via TDN (full report)
Williams features a sturdy and muscular frame with good length and large hands. A sufficient athlete, Williams has the movement skills necessary to drop in coverage and pursue the football to the sidelines. While angles can be hit or miss, Williams can close distances when searching to cut off routes and flow outside the tackles. He plays with a hot motor and has proven capable of navigating tight quarters to find the football. Williams has developed into a fairly reliable tackler and features an impressive resume on special teams with more than 700 reps across four seasons.
Tyjae Spears, RB (No. 22)
Career stats (four seasons): 410 carries, 2,705 yards (6.6 ypc), 27 TDs, 47 receptions, 550 yards, 3 TDs
NMDD draft projection as of 12/31: UDFA
Scouting report via TDN (full report)
Spears is an explosive runner with easy acceleration and the breakaway speed needed to gain significant chunks of yardage. Tulane features a blended run scheme that utilizes a balanced approach to zone and gap runs and Spears is comfortable functioning in either concept. While he isn’t a big bruising back, I am impressed with how competitive Spears is through contact and how he battles to maximize every touch. He does well to set up tacklers and string together moves to make it difficult for opponents to square up on him. Spears has exciting twitch, flexibility, and elusiveness that enable him to be shifty and dynamic with the football in his hands. He is a decisive runner that hits the hole with conviction both between the tackles and when working off-tackle. Spears has good vision, ball security, and contact balance.