Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Prospect Profile: DT Star Lotulelei - Utah

Name:  Starlite Lotulelei
Height:  6' - 2"
Weight:  325 lbs.
Roster Years:  2010-2012
Hometown:  South Jordan, Utah
Date of Birth:  12/20/1980 (22 years old)
Last School:  Snow College

2012 (Sr.): Despite facing double or triple-teams on virtually every play this season, Lotulelei finished with 42 tackles, including a team-high 11 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks.  The senior also had 4 pass breakups, 4 fumble recoveries and 3 forced fumbles.  He leads the Pac-12 and is tied for second in the nation in fumble recoveries (4).  First team All Pac-12, Walter Camp and AP All-American.

2011 (Jr.):  First team all Pac-12. Won the Morris Trophy as the league's best defensive lineman...9.0 tackles for loss tied for 2nd on the team...44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass breakup, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

2010 (So.): Played in all 13 games, earning the starting job for the final 3 games of the season...21 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and half a sack.

Prior to Utah: Played at Snow College, amassing 52 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble.  Was a 1st Team All-State DT at Bingham High School in South Jordan, UT.

Senior Year (2012) Highlights:

Junior Year (2011) Highlights:

Conversation with Star Lotulelei:

+ Prototypical size and frame, ideal arm length and thick lower base
Powerful and disruptive at the point of attack
Displays heavy hands when engaging offensive linemen
Great anchor against double teams and rarely gets pushed back
Good balance and short area quickness
Surprising lateral agility
Stout run defender and plays gap assignments well
Plays to the whistle and will run to the ball
Mature (married), team leader and has great work ethic

- Sometimes loses sight of the ball when taking on blocks
Inconsistent disengagement from offensive linemen
Needs to work on his pass rushing moves and counters
Conditioning needs improvement
Some have questioned his motor 
Isn't consistently dominant

NFL Player Comparison:  Haloti Ngata - Baltimore Ravens

NFL Analysis:
Lotulelei's blend of freakish size, surprising athletic ability and quickness will make him a highly sought after commodity come the 2013 NFL Draft.  He is scheme friendly, can play NT in the 3-4, some 5 technique DE and play DT in the 4-3.  Though he's not as consistently dominant as some would like, he's a hard worker who has shown the willingness to improve in areas of his game.  The one glaring area of his game that needs improvement is increasing his pass rushing repertoire.  He's still somewhat raw and displays a huge upside.  Lotulelei has the potential to be a similar player to Ravens DT Haloti Ngata, but needs to put it all together and develop down-to-down consistency.

Outlook as a Raider:
The Raiders will need help inside at DT.  Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly may not be on the roster in 2013 for cap reasons.  Though the Raiders have shown signs of improvement with their rush defense in 2012, the popular thought is that coach Dennis Allen will have the defense play more 3-4 in the upcoming season, and with no one on the roster capable of playing NT, Lotulelei would be an ideal fit.  If anything, his presence on the roster would give the defense the flexibility to be more scheme diverse.

Combine Analysis

During Lotulelei's medical exam at the combine, they found an abnormal heart condition which forced him to sit out from the weekend's activities.  His echocardiogram revealed that he had an abnormally low Ejection Fraction, that showed his left ventricle was pumping at 44% efficiency.  Normal levels are usually between 55-70 percent.  There's been some speculation that it may have been due to his dieting prior to the Combine.  Prior to this discovery, Lotulelei had no known physical ailments.  Most media outlets are stating that the condition shouldn't be an issue for him moving forward.  

Besides that, the biggest surprise was that Lotulelei measured in almost 2 inches shorter than his listed college height.  Lotulelei will have a chance to show what he can do on March 20.

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