To say Chargers second-round pick Tuli Tuipulotu has stood out early in his rookie season would be an understatement.
Tuipulotu has been a big piece of the Chargers defense through the first half of the year, stepping up in a big way when injuries have hit the group at various points of the year.
The rookie has put up 2.0 sacks, five tackles for loss and five quarterback hits in seven regular-season games and has Pro Football Focus' second-highest defense grade (69.1) among rookie edge rushers with at least 100 total snaps.
His impact on the team has been big in his first season, but he's also earned himself a name on the national stage as well, being praised by CBS Sports in their NFL Midseason All-Rookie Team.
Tuipulotu was one of two edge rushers on Chris Trapsso's recent list ahead of the midway point of the year, pointing to the rookie's ability to do it all along the Bolts defensive line.
Tuipulotu has taken full advantage of rushing on the same defensive front as Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. A relatively small percentage of his 22 pressures have come on stunts or been due to tight coverage downfield. But every pressure counts the same in the stat book. And at 6-3 and 265 pounds, Tuipulotu has been a rock on running downs for the Chargers.
Arguably Tuipulotu's best all-around performances in the first half of the season came in Week 3 against the Vikings, a game in which he generated 10 quarterback pressures (a 27-percent pressure rate). It was the second-most pressures by a rookie in a single game in the Next Gen Stats era.
But as Trapasso stated, Tuipulotu has also been stout in the run game on the edge.
In seven games, the rookie is credited with 12 run stops according to PFF, second-most among rookies, and the highest run defense grade among all rookie edge rushers (82.0).
Tuipulotu has been as good as it gets as a 21-year-old rookie, and he will be key alongside Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack as the second half stretch of the season nears.
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