DraftBrowns.com Staff Writer: Justin Higdon
This year, defensive linemen might comprise the deepest pool of upper-tier talent available in the draft. The class includes a number of promising pass rushers, as well as several interior defenders who could hear their names called on Day One of the draft. A player who began the season in almost everyone’s top five is the massive Utah Ute with the name meant for success: Star Lotulelei.
Star Lotulelei Utah DT 6’3 320
Lotulelei is a gifted athlete for a man his size. For a man any size, for that matter. He has great anticipation and is incredibly quick off the snap. He has tremendous strength and often turns offensive linemen into rag dolls, tossing them aside on his way to the ball carrier.
He does well to flow down the line of scrimmage even as opposing teams attempt to run the ball away from him. He is one of the best in the draft class at shedding his blocks, though he’d be even more effective if he got his hands up more often and batted more passes.
The knock on Lotulelei is that he can do special things because of his strength and athleticism, but he isn’t as consistent as he should be. He does not use a variety of pass rush moves; but he is able to bull rush and push the pocket, and use an occasional spin move.
He has remarkable closing speed, enough that he can chase down quarterbacks when they get flushed out of the pocket. He can show good bend to get through gaps, but he seems to forget to use it on occasion. If he plays at his highest level, he is virtually unblockable one on one.
Lotulelei will be most valuable to teams that run a 3-4 defense, though he appears more than capable of playing in any front. While it’s widely assumed that he is best suited to play nose tackle, it’s entirely possible that he may be valued more as a “5-technique” end. Lotulelei has been at the top of many draft boards all year long.
Vs. BYU (’12)
- Great athleticism for man his size – enough speed to chase down the QB when he’s flushed out of the pocket.
- Not a ton of variety in his moves – usually a bull rush, occasional swim.
- Pushes the pocket, gets a paw up and bats a pass.
- He has good bend, but needs to be more consistent with it.
- Shrugs off a chip, discards the blocker and gets a TFL.
- Flows down the line, rag dolls the blocker and gets a sack – if he plays at this level he’s unblockable one on one.
- Really good at pushing blockers back into the QB.
- Good hand play but it’s not on every play.
- Remarkable closing speed for a big man
Vs. USC (’12)
- Great anticipation of the snap, pushes the C back into the QB and forces a fumble.
- Quick off the snap.
- Shoves the G to the ground and tackles the RB behind the LOS.
- Good flow down the LOS to tackle the RB even though they tried to run away from him.
- So strong, able to get into his opponents’ pads and shove the back on a bull rush.
- Does a good job shedding blocks but should get his hands up more often.
- Able to push the pocket.
- Has to resist the urge to guess.
- May be more effective as a 5 tech who moves inside on passing downs.
- Needs to be more consistent
Vs. Washington (’11)
- Quick first step
- Excellent athleticism for his size
- Moves very well down the LOS on run plays away from him