Prospect: Star Lotulelei, DT, UtahStar Lotulelei

Height: 6’2½”

Weight: 311 lb.

Athleticism:

  • Explodes into contact with a sudden first step, consistently the first defensive lineman into contact
  • Very nimble feet with quick change of direction ability
  • Accelerates quickly in space, impressive athlete at his size
  • Occasionally fails to break down in space and misses plays as a result
  • Impressive strength throughout, has lower half strength to put blockers on skates and upper half to jolt with initial punch

Intelligence/Effort:

  • Doesn’t consistently maintain gap discipline but can make up for it with sheer size and power
  • Goes through stretches where ball awareness wanes when taking on blockers, gets caught up trying to get penetration
  • Generally has an average motor, will ramp things up when producing and has a clear mismatch

Pass Rush:

  • Bullrush-oriented pass rusher who can move blockers back into the quarterback and press the pocket
  • Lacks counter moves to work off his power rush
  • Worked in an effective swim move as a senior, still needs work with pass rush repertoire
  • Mirrors the quarterback effectively when initial pass rush attempt fails, quits on pass rush to try and bat passes too quickly at times though
  • Gets hands into passing lanes consistently and in an efficient way with proper timing, productive batting passes

Run Support:

  • Consistently makes plays in the backfield by splitting gaps with a quick first step
  • Engages the double team with aplomb, has the natural strength and wide frame to keep linebackers clean
  • Prevalent ability to stack blockers at the point of attack and work laterally down the line on outside runs
  • Occasionally fails to cross the face of blockers to combat directional leverage, instead settles for shooting the backside gap and trying to chase
  • Ability to shed blocks somewhat inconsistent, has strong hands to control blockers though
  • Can spin off of contact quickly for a tackle of his size

Technique:

  • Sinks hips well to lower pad level and win leverage battles in one on one situations
  • Exponential improvement of his hand usage as a senior, specifically ability to create separation to disengage
  • Fires hands into the chest of blockers and can gain control quickly to overpower
  • Occasionally gets lazy with his hands and reverts to sheer power to win, mostly occurs on junior tape

Overall:

Star Lotulelei truly lived up to all the hype he received before his senior season ever started, which isn’t something that can be said about many prospects.  Coming out of high school, he committed to BYU but did not qualify academically.  So after spending a year in junior college, he transferred to Utah and took the college football world by storm.  Lotulelei is a blend of size, speed, and athleticism that few defensive tackles boast.  He dominated many a game to the tune of 6.5 sacks between his junior and senior seasons despite frequently playing through double and triple teams.  At the top of his game, he’s simply unblockable.  He’s not only a space eater on the inside though.  Lotulelei has shown the ability to be a disruptive force in the backfield by splitting gaps or rocking pass blockers onto their heels.  His skills fit across any defensive scheme.  He may be drafted to hold the nose and occupy two gaps.  He may also be drafted to sit in a gap as a 3 technique and disrupt oppenents’ running games consistently with penetration.  Either way, he can help a wide variety of teams and in a wide variety of ways.  Combine his natural skills with his production and scheme diversity and you’re looking at what should be a top five lock.

2/25/2013 Edit: Lotulelei was found to have a heart condition during medical exams at the NFL Combine, which could put his long-term health prospects in jeopardy.

Originally published at DetroitLionsDraft.com: Star Lotulelei Scouting Report

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