NFL Draft hopeful and ASU football safety Dasmond Tautalatasi made one of the most underrated plays of the Sun Devils’ 2018 season.
The first half was coming to a close in Tucson, and Arizona was ahead of ASU, 19-14. Wildcat quarterback Khalil Tate dropped back, tucked the ball in and made some defenders miss at the line of scrimmage. At that point, there was only one man left to beat: Sun Devil defensive back Dasmond Tautalatasi.
He came in with a potential touchdown-saving open-field tackle. Arizona settled for a field goal on the drive and eventually lost by one. If that play resulted in six points, then maybe ASU’s Territorial Cup comeback does not occur.
Tautalatasi is an “attacking defensive back,” according to TheSunDevils.com. He has shown great tackling ability in the open field and he reads and reacts to the run well.
In his junior campaign, he brought down 22 total defenders with 18 solo tackles in 11 appearances. His 2018 season started off promising, too.
Through less than a game-and-a-half, he had four tackles and a crucial interception in the end zone against Michigan State. Unfortunately, his elbow was injured on the return, and he would miss several games.
Still, Tautalatasi brought physicality in the “Tillman” position. A big question is whether or not he can bring down NFL opponents at the same rate.
Since he arrived at ASU, Tautalatasi has gained 14 pounds and now weighs 208, an average size for a defensive back.
He only benched 11 repetitions, though, at the Sun Devils’ Pro Day on March 27. Last year, only one safety weighing over 200 pounds benched fewer (Kameron Kelly), and he went undrafted.
Another issue is his lack of speed. His 40-yard dash was unimpressive at 4.70 (unofficial), and on tape, his speed isn’t what stands out. Those issues have resulted in a low draft stock.
Major outlets like CBS Sports and NFL.com don’t have Tautalatasi getting drafted this year. If he does get his named called, it will likely be in the final two rounds to a team that is looking for secondary depth or special teams help. Tautalatasi was a contributor on returns throughout his college tenure.
Chicago could be a destination given its inadequacies on special teams. The Bears had the worst average yards-per-return in the NFL and allowed the fifth-most yards per attempt in 2018. They also have two seventh-round picks, and SB Nation projects they will select a defensive back with one or both of those.
Another could be Denver, a team that similarly struggled in the return game in 2018. The Broncos bolstered the cornerback spot this offseason, but could use depth at safety, where Tautalatasi could step in. They own a sixth and seventh-round pick.
However, according to projections, Tautalatasi’s best shot at the NFL appears to be as an undrafted rookie at training camp.
By the Numbers:
- 6-feet tall
- 208 pounds
- 11 reps on bench
- 4.70 40-yard dash
- 33.5-inch vertical
Arizona State Career Statistics
- 41 tackles (32 solo)
- One interception
- Five passes deflected
- One fumble recovered