The Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked USC defensive lineman Stevie Tu’ikolovatu with the No. 223 pick overall in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Stevie Tu’ikolovatu’s long road to the 2017 NFL Draft is complete. The USC defensive lineman is now a Buccaneer.
Tampa Bay made Tu’ikolovatu their pick in the seventh round of the draft, making him the fifht Trojan selected this year after Adoree’ Jackson to the Tennessee Titans, JuJu Smith-Schuster to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Zach Banner to the Indianapolis Colts and Leon McQuay III to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The defensive lineman spent just one season at USC, but he made the most of his shot to improve his draft stock after transferring from Utah in 2016.
Tu’ikolovatu, who had been relegated to a back up role with the Utes, took center stage for the Trojans at nose tackle, anchoring the defensive line with power and reliability.
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Though the defense front had been a major concern for USC coming into the 2016 season, Tu’ikolovatu turned the Trojans’ fortunes around on the line.
Heading into the draft, Tu’ikolovatu’s ability was well-regarded. For teams looking for a run-stopper in the middle, the defensive lineman had the look of a game.
However, there were also forces working against Tu’ikolovatu’s rise up the draft board. As one of the oldest players in the draft at 26 years old, his draftability took a major hit. On top of that, some raised questions about his ability to contribute to a pro pass rush with just 2.5 sacks in his career.
With the pick, Tu’ikolovatu became the 501st Trojan all-time to be selected in the NFL Draft, extending USC’s record at the top.