Photo of Star Lotulelei
Grade
92.0 ?
  • 6'2" Height
  • 33 5/8" Arm Length
  • 311LBS. Weight
  • 9 3/4" Hands

Overview

The shortened version of Lotulelei’s (pronounced lo-too-leh-lay) first name predicts success in anything he does. Starlite certainly played up to that moniker in 2011, starting all 13 games and receiving the Pac-12’s Morris Trophy as the league’s top defensive lineman (44 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks). He could have left the Utes for the NFL after that successful season, but decided to spend another year in Salt Lake City in order to get his degree. The dominance continued in his senior season (42 tackles, 11 for loss, 5 sacks), and he improved in many key areas - most notably disengaging with offensive linemen and locating the football.

The Utah native was an all-state pick as a high school senior and signed to play for the same BYU Cougars team he grew up following, but he failed to qualify academically. He started his collegiate career with a great freshman year at Snow Junior College (52 tackles, 14 for loss, three sacks), but played at more than 350 pounds and quit football after the season because he questioned his passion for the sport. Sitting out made him miss the game, however, and Utah took a chance on his talent. A focused and slimmed-down Lotulelei played in 13 games in 2010, starting three and making 21 tackles, 2.5 for loss.



Lotulelei is already married with two young daughters, even though he’ll be just 23 years old on draft weekend. If he can show scouts that he has matured through his raising a family, and he is fully committed to football as a profession, it will be impossible to ignore his potential. Utah plays him at both nose tackle and defensive end, asking him to two-gap often. He will be coveted in both of those roles by NFL teams who run 3-4 defenses, although his combination of size, strength, and quickness make him a fit in almost any type of defensive system.

Analysis

Strengths

Powerful and agile starting nose tackle prospect. Versatile enough to play almost all interior defensive line positions across many types of fronts. Often the first player off the snap, will challenge the hand and foot quickness of guards inside. When choosing to bull rush, gets under his man’s pads and churns his legs to push him backwards. Thick arms eat up ball carriers coming into his path. Quick feet and a bit of short-area speed to spin off blocks inside and follow plays across the field. Flashes arm-over move to penetrate. Recognize screens and track them down, also willing to move down the line while engaged. Greatly improved on reading blocking schemes, locating the football, and disengaging over his last two seasons.

Weaknesses

Inconsistent keeping his eyes in the backfield to find the ball and being violent with his hands to shed, but has improved here and is a dominant run-stopper when he does. Will get pressure, but probably won't be a dominant sack artist at the next level due to how he'll be used. Lacks flexibility to break down on open-field tackles, ball carriers can elude him in the backfield. Does not beat cut blocks with his hands, though he does a good job recovering for his size, gets back into the play.

NFL Comparison

Haloti Ngata

Bottom Line

This active wide-body struggled with his weight and passion for the game while in Junior College, but Lotulelei (pronounced lo-too-leh-lay) has worked hard over the past couple of seasons to become the Pac-12’s best defensive lineman (20.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks over the last two years) and a probable first-round selection at nose tackle.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
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