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Scouting Report: Star Lotulelei

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

TALE OF THE TAPE:

Born December 20th, 1989

6'3"

311 lbs.

Defensive tackle

University of Utah

STRENGTHS:

  • Anticipates the snap count extremely well. Consistently the first d-lineman off the ball
  • Fires fast and furious off the snap
  • Good physical strength
  • Almost demands a double team. Single blocking him is playing with fire
  • When he stays low and uses proper form he’s borderline unblockable
  • Surprisingly nimble and light on his feet for such a huge man
  • Great “phone booth” agility
  • Good lateral motion.
  • Keep his feet moving and doesn’t get tripped up.
  • Eyes are always in the backfield reading the play
  • If he can’t get to the QB, is aware enough to try and get his hands into the passing lane
  • Displays a rip and a swim move. Swim is particularly effective.
  • Consistent effort late into the game
  • Impossible to drive backward

WEAKNESSES:

  • Frequently comes out of his stance too high and gets stood up
  • If initial surge is contained, too often has nothing else to give
  • Not as effective at clogging up running lanes as you might think.
  • Aggression can be used against him. Gets killed on delayed handoffs.
  • Don’t like how often teams run right at him
  • Worry he’s a bit of a tweener…not enough pass rush for a 3 technique, not enough run stuffing ability for a nose tackle
  • Not much downfield hustle; doesn’t make many plays in pursuit
  • Would like to see heavier, more active hands
  • Wish he had a bit more edge to his game
  • Can be walked laterally out of a play

SUMMARY:
The interior of the Raiders defensive line is in a state of flux. Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant are gone and Tommy Kelly is unlikely to see the opening day roster barring a large paycut and the acceptance of a backup role. Vance Walker and Pat Sims are nice signings but at this point, neither can be counted upon to be more than a rotational player. The defensive line needs a long term anchor and Lotulelei can provide that.


As with Jarvis Jones, Lotulelei is an elite talent with flaws that should be fixable through pro-level coaching but carries a huge medical red flag. In his case, it was discovered at the Combine that his heart is not operating at proper efficiency. Matters of the heart are notoriously delicate in both a literal and figurative sense. Lotulelei is set to go back to Indianapolis soon to be rechecked and his pro career could hinge on the outcome of the next battery of tests.


For a moment, though, let's assume he will check out fine. If that's the case, he would be a fine selection for Reggie McKenzie to make at #3. Lotulelei comes off the snap with speed and surprising nimbleness for a man his size. I see him fitting best as either a three-technique where he can use his strength and very effective swim move to blow up his gap and get into the backfield or as a five-technique (3-4 DE) where his propensity to draw doubleteams can allow linebackers to fly around and make plays.


At his best...he's doing his best "Godzilla destroys the city" impersonation on offensive linemen and disrupting plays in the backfield. He abused well-regarded USC center Khaled Holmes for most of the Utes's matchup against the Trojans.


At his worst...he's being stood up and stymied at the point of attack while the running back blows right by him.


NFL Comparison:
Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo Bills -- Like Dareus, Lotulelei is a scheme versatile interior lineman who can dominate if not properly accounted for but isn't capable of taking over a game all by himself.


(The games used in this evaluation were the 2012 Utah games against USC, BYU and Washington)

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