Lotulelei (pronounced low-two-LAY-LAY) went the junior college route after a successful high school career on the island of Maui. His coach at Merced College in California admitted that he “struggled” in his first year with that program, but he came on strong as a sophomore, leading the team with 84 tackles, 12 for loss, and earning attention from FBS programs.
He joined the Runnin’ Rebels in the summer of 2011, earning his way onto the field for all 12 games –- and into the starting line-up for four of the last five contests. He had 13 of his season total of 60 tackles (three for loss) against Boise State and finished third on the team in stops despite not becoming a starter until later in the year. As a senior, Lotulelei recorded 121 tackles (1.5 for loss), two forced fumbles, and one interception. He was named first-team All-Mountain West for his play.
Lotulelei is a thick outside linebacker who possesses enough quickness to avoid offensive linemen and closing speed to attack stretch plays on the other side of the line. He’s an aggressive tackler who can explode into ballcarriers; he also takes out fullbacks and pulling guards in the hole like a hammer. Lotulelei low center of gravity and upper-body strength allows him to punch to shed and play with leverage inside, and he has the instincts and vision to find the ball in traffic. His hustle and solid tackling should allow him to succeed on the interior of special teams coverage units.
He’ll be among the shorter linebackers in the draft class. His short, compact build will probably limit him to the interior at the next level, and linemen will have an advantage over him between the tackles with his average length. His man-cover skills are limited, as he lacks the pure short-area quickness and recovery speed to chase down receivers once taking a false step or starting a tick behind.
Lotulelei (no relation with Utah defensive tackle Star) needed some time to take advantage of his gifts at the junior college level, and didn’t earn a starting spot until later in his junior year. There are plenty of things to like about his attacking style, however, allowing him to project as a late-round inside linebacker prospect with good special teams potential.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.