Hufanga is an exciting and high motor player who is always around the ball. He is smart and impactful around the LOS. He can be disruptive but also key in on developing plays quickly. Because of his short explosive movements, he excels quickly making plays down on the ball. Against the run, you see someone who doesn't lack any physicality or the willingness to use his pads. He can be aggressive and maneuver through the muck of the front seven and find the ball carrier well for being a DB. While in coverage, he excels with short area coverage and quickness and is ideal as a curl/flat defender.
Hufanga has a lot of interesting factors that make him really unique but to reach that point, he has to be healthy and available. And though he hasn't missed a lot of games in college, the level and severity of his injuries could question his longevity in the game (especially with his level of physicality). When on the field, Hufanga doesn't have the skillset to play as a single-high safety. He lacks the fluidity in coverage, doesn't look comfortable when asked to play in space. When tackling, he needs to work on connecting all parts of the process while wrapping up ball carriers.
Concussion '19, Broken Right Collarbone (2x), dislocated shoulder
vs. Oregon ('20), vs. WSU ('20), vs. UCLA ('20)
Talanoa Hufanga projects to a bit of a niche position in the NFL as a rover type hybrid safety. Working as a hybrid S/LB allows for him to do a bit of both positions and avoid playing on the back end of the defense while also working to make plays off ball or in coverage. He does have some serious injury concerns that will push him down draft boards but a health Talanoa Hufanga can add a needed playmaker to a lot of defenses. He projects as a late day 2 pick but can slide depending on how his medicals check out. He can provide a lot of depth at the next level at first while being an important contributor to special teams.
Hufanga has the required feet to play in the secondary. He has quick feet when backpedaling and breaking down and coming down hill but does falter at times with having to transition and open his hips up. Despite having good speed with his play, Hufanga doesn't have more than one speed with his game. He is naturally strong and is built already, which any teams strength coach will appreciate. He also shows no issues with maintaining balance when knocked off base or when making plays all over the field.
Big Play Ability
In coverage, Hufanga doesn't operate well in space. Has issues downfield as a single high safety when he is covering and trying to account for space. Looks uncomfortable at times but those issues mostly go away around the LOS while he reads and reacts. Can get lost in coverage when asked to cover too long. He drives on the ball as a curl/flat defender with more anticipation and fluidity. As a single high safety, he does show concerns with some tight hips and aren't smooth with tracking and flowing with routes down field.
Hufanga is gifted when it comes making plays on the ball. He is very aggressive when he comes down hill and has relatively good timing. He has soft hands and has a knack for finding his way to and around the ball. For his size, he does a good job at highpointing and bringing down difficult catches and can move with the ball in his hands. He saw a lot of success at USC when he blitzes, willing to put his helmet on the chest of a lineman and drive but saw success cornering.
Tufunga is very willing to take on blocks and fight them off with naturally low pad level and leverage and strong/quick hands. He can cover a lot of ground but could use some work with pursuit angles. Can be overly aggressive in space and overestimate his closing speed. He is a very hard hitter but needs work with bringing his hands, wrapping up and finishing tackles. Saw too many times where he went for the big hit and either missed completely or couldn't get them to the ground.
Engage with blocks
You have a tough competitor here. He is aggressive and doesn't really turn that part of his game off. He brings a lot of confidence to his game and carries himself as such. Will provide any given defense with the needed energy. Hufanga has a high motor but the question is: how often is he on the field? Injury history causes concerns with his consistency and can be hot and cold from game-to-game.
Hufanga does a good job reading what's in front of him. Inside the box, he reads direction of blocks well and can time/find natural gaps/pullers. He is pretty intuitive with the screen game as well. But in coverage, he doesn't have the same level of mental processing and conceptual awareness to key in on what receivers are doing. Hufanga CAN be versatile but he his projection at the next level is clearcut and niche, he fits well as a box safety or as a nickel corner/hybrid safety-LB combo.