Star Lotulelei is one of the more dynamic and game changing defensive players in this draft. Despite only starting for one season, he has the making of a top pick in the 2013 Draft.
Lotulelei was not highly recruited coming out of high school and started off at Snow College in 2009. He finished with 52 tackles,14 tackles for a loss and three sacks. In 2010, his first season in Utah, he was a backup up until the final three games, when he finally had the chance to start. Last season was his first real shot to show what he could do and he didn’t disappoint. While the box score never showed it, Lotulelei is the person that every offensive coordinator game planned for. He only finished with 1.5 sacks, but altered play calls and plugged up running lanes.
His measurables and skill set will give him a chance to hear his named called early in the draft.
Grade: 1st Round
- Uncanny blend of quickness and sheer power
- Very athletic given his size
- Quick feet
- Long reach. Gives OL fits with his wingspan
- Does a great job timing snaps
- Very disruptive, blows up the line of scrimmage
- Very good power rusher. Simply is stronger than everyone else
- Versatile; Can fit into any front and would be successful
- Relentless motor and will chase down the ball across the field
- Still improving as a football player
- Anchors well against double teams and doesn’t get pushed off the line
- Shows good lateral agility for someone of his size
- Lacks any true pass rushing moves. Relies on power rush and speed
- At times he fails to see plays develop if he’s engaged with blockers
- Questions if he’s a one-year wonder
Plain and simple, prospects with his size and speed don’t come around too often. He has a similar skill set to Baltimore Ravens star Haloti Ngata, minus the pass rushing ability. There was also times last season when he looked eerily reminiscent to Ndamukong Suh when he just tosses his blockers aside.
His size, strength and speed will be sought-after from many teams in the top of the draft. Whether you run a 4-3 or 3-4, Lotulelei would be a great fit for any defense. The casual fan will look at his stats and see less than impressive numbers. Lotulelei only registered 44 tackles with 1.5 sacks last season, but the impact he had on the field last season can’t be measured by stats. He was constantly blowing up the field and was disrupting the pocket for opposing QB’s on a consistent basis.
For a person his size, the last thing you would associate with him his quickness. He explodes off the ball and will constancy chase down ball carriers. He shows great lateral agility when he needs to move up and down the line of scrimmage. Opposing teams would always send extra help to block, but with his strength, he did a great job anchoring and not allowing any running lanes to open up.
Many scouts want to see Lotulelei improve as a pass rusher in his senior season. He lacks a spin or swim move, but that should come as he develops and matures as a player. If he were to become a more complete pass rusher, the sky is the limit for what he could do at the next level. 2011 was really his first year as a starter and I want to see him have the same impact, with the added attention form offensive lineman, to squash any question about him being a one hit wonder.
Last season Dontari Poe went 11 overall to Kansas City. Lotulelei is far more developed and just a better prospect than Poe was. Barring injury, I would be shocked if he goes out of the top 10 next April.
Jeremy Cabler covers the NFL Draft and College Football for Rant Sports. Check out his Scouting Reports