Utah Defensive Tackle Star Lotulelei has become one of the premier prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft. Star’s size and ability allows him to maneuver through the line of scrimmage, sometimes with absolute ease. Assuming he has a solid combine, as well as a defining pro day, Lotulelei very well could be in contention for the #1 overall selection in April’s NFL Draft.
Ndamukong Suh is the first player that comes to mind when I turn on the tape of Star Lotulelei. He has punishing strength that allows him to destroy opposing offensive lineman and force his way into the backfield to wreak havoc. Although he often finds himself as the last player on the defensive line to put his hand in the dirt, Star is the first one off the ball nearly every time. His first step is extremely explosive and it contributes to his dominance in the trenches.
After watching a few hours of film on Star, one thing I absolutely loved about his game is his consistency with keeping his eyes in the backfield. Rarely did I see him with his head down, or not focused on what’s in front of him. Star does a fantastic job of keeping his eyes on the ball carrier, which allows him to constantly be in position to make a play deep. These skills are attributed to his excellent strength. Star possesses some of the most outstanding overall strength I have seen in a defensive tackle, since the previously mentioned Suh.
Let’s not send Star to the Hall of Fame just yet, though. He does come with some flaws that concern me. The biggest concern I have for him is his absolute lack of pass rush moves. Plenty of times on tape I noticed that he would have been able to make a bigger contribution had he used a swim or a rip during the play. However, he relies heavily and consistently on his strength to get him to the quarterback. That won’t work for you every time in the NFL, not against the quality offensive lines that are being put together to protect these extremely valuable skill players. He absolutely needs to incorporate a swim or a rip move if he wants to produce early and often for whatever NFL team takes him. I counted at least four or five times throughout the course of certain games, where Star would get shoved down the line because his inside arm was tangled and he didn’t have a move to get himself back into the play, creating big spaces for opposing runners to flourish through.
While Star does possess all of the tools to be a stud defensive tackle in the NFL, I’m not so sure he is the type of player that will make an impact immediately. I think with the right coaching, in the right system, Lotulelei will be more likely to bust onto the scene in year two or three after mastering his technique and the system he is in. I still think he is a top five talent, and that will show on draft day. In my most recent mock I have him going third overall to the Oakland Raiders.