After Calais Campbell surprisingly came off the market so soon this week, New York Jets fans are still waiting on the splash addition at defensive tackle this offseason.
The Jets have lost one starter in Sheldon Rankins and a solid backup in Nathan Shepherd so far in free agency. Campbell was supposed to come in for a visit with the Jets this past Thursday. He ended up signing a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons worth a fully-guaranteed $7 million on Wednesday.
Currently, at defensive tackle, the Jets obviously have one of the best in football in Quinnen Williams. Aside from him, the only other player, the Jets, have guaranteed to be on the roster is Solomon Thomas.
Knowing the way that Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich want to rotate the defensive line, at least two players will have to be added. There is still a good chance that the Jets add a free-agent defensive tackle at some point. After all, there are still some viable options on the market between Matt Ioannidis, Shelby Harris, Linval Joseph, Poona Ford, Quinton Jefferson, Chris Wormley, and A’Shawn Robinson.
However, with it being fairly later on in free agency now, it is reasonable to expect Joe Douglas and Saleh to look to select a young defensive tackle to potentially pair with Williams for years to come.
At the moment, the Jets have two second-round picks (42nd and 43rd overall). That could change after the trade for Aaron Rodgers finally gets completed. But, for now, with the Jets still having those two picks, we will take a look at two fascinating defensive tackle prospects in the 2023 NFL draft who fit Saleh and Ulbrich’s attacking scheme that the Jets could look to put alongside Williams for the future.
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Two lesser-discussed DT prospects the New York Jets could draft:
Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern:
One of the biggest winners from the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine was versatile defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore from Northwestern. He absolutely jumped out of the gym, posting generational, speed, explosion, and agility drill scores which led to a 9.71 Relative Athletic Score (RAS).
Adebawore’s speed times in the 40-yard dash, a 1.55 10-yard split, a 2.62 20-yard split, and a 4.49 40-yard dash were all in the 99th percentile relative to defensive tackles. His explosion, with a 37.5″ vertical and a 125″ broad jump, also were 99th percentile scores. Lastly, his agility times, a 7.13 3-cone and 4.26 20-yard shuttle, were in the 98th percentile.
The reason for his RAS dropping to a 9.71 is because of his size. Adebawore is 6-foot-1 and 282 pounds. He does have very good length, though, with 33 7/8″ arms, something we know Saleh and Ulbrich want in their one-gapping defensive lineman.
Adebawore is a young prospect who just turned 22 years old in early March. He spent all four of his years in college at Northwestern and played in 36 games. Adebawore wrapped up his college career with 12.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss. He recorded six tackles for loss in 2020. Adebawore followed that up with 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2021. He built on that production again in 2022 with nine tackles for loss and five sacks.
All in all, Adebawore is an intriguing defensive tackle prospect for the Jets. He is a generational athlete with speed and explosiveness. But not only that, Adebawore possesses the length to convert speed to power. He projects as a high-ceiling pass-rushing defensive tackle. Adebawore has a lot of the traits that Saleh and Ulbrich want.
Tuli Tuipulotu, USC:
The exact position along the defensive line that USC prospect Tuli Tuipulotu will play in the NFL is still unknown. Tuipulotu played edge mostly in college, where the Jets are currently deep. That being said, per PFF, he played a combined 63 snaps at the A and B-Gap’s last year and some analysts ultimately project Tuipulotu to play inside in the NFL. The Jets did also happen to meet with Tuipulotu last week, per Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic.
Tuipulotu is a very young prospect who will be turning just 21 years old in September. He spent all three of his college years at USC and played in 31 games. In total, Tuipulotu recorded 32 tackles for loss and 21 sacks. Tuipulotu is coming off an utterly dominant career year in which he posted 22 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks in 14 games.
Physically, Tuipulotu is 6-foot-3, 266 pounds, has 32 1/4″ arms, and his best physical trait is his 10 1/8″ hands, which allow him to win with power. His arm length is one key people point to for his projection to the interior of the defensive line. With regards to his weight, USC does have Tuipulotu at 290 pounds on their website, another reason why many anticipate him playing inside in the NFL.
Athletically, Tuipulotu is fast off the ball, a key for Saleh and Ulbrich in their penetrating front. He possesses some quickness in short areas and the ability to move well laterally.
Overall, Tuipulotu is a young prospect coming off a dominant breakout year with some tools. He is a good athlete with the power and strength to boot. Versatility is a plus, but Tuipulotu does seem slated to primarily play inside in the NFL, where he can potentially be a dynamic pass rusher.