Star Lotulelei, DT

  • Height: 6-foot-4
  • Weight: 320 pounds
  • School: Utah

Scouting Report

After the end of the college season, many felt Lotulelei had a good chance of being the No. 1 overall pick, but the hulking defensive tackle found out at the NFL combine that he had a previously undiscovered heart issue. That kept him from participating in Indianapolis, and it has teams frantically doing research on his condition, which keeps his heart from pumping blood as fast as it should. The problem may be caused by something as simple as a viral infection or could be a much bigger concern long-term, so it should be fascinating to see which team decides to take a chance on this potential game-changer. The team that drafts Lotulelei will get someone who's already been through quite a bit, including being married with two daughters at age 23. He was a high school star in Utah and signed to play at BYU, but after failing to qualify academically, he ended up at Snow Junior College. Despite an excellent freshman year there, he questioned his passion for the sport and quit football. He eventually wound up with the Utes and was a star for the last three years despite constantly being double- or triple-teamed. Lotulelei had 20 of his 22 1/2 career tackles for loss the last two seasons, largely because of his incredible quickness off the snap. He gets excellent leverage on interior offensive linemen when he chooses to bull rush and has the leg strength to drive would-be blockers into the backfield. He's outstanding against the run because of his wide body and thick arms, but also can recognize screens effectively and continue to make plays downfield if necessary. Teams looking at Lotulelei know they aren't getting someone who will put up big sack totals - he had seven in three seasons with Utah - but he'll make the game easier for the 10 defenders around him. He's been compared to Ravens anchor Haloti Ngata, and not just because of their Tongan ancestry. Like Ngata, Lotulelei has the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler and a presence so menacing that opponents might rarely run up the middle when he's on the field. Should teams learn the heart condition isn't going to be a long-term hindrance, there's no reason to expect Lotulelei to fall out of the top 10 - and it still wouldn't be a surprise to see Kansas City take him first overall.

 

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