Today we're going to profile a 2013 NFL Draft prospect who can be absolutely dominating when he wants to be -- Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (pronounced Lo-too-leh-lay).
Lotulelei has been a very productive player for the last two seasons. He has great size (6-foot-4, 320 pounds). He has great functional strength and can play essentially anywhere along the line 4-3 defensive tackle, 3-4 defensive end, 3-4 nose tackle, and even 3-4 defensive end in some schemes (especially Seattle's scheme). He's very quick, even though he is not extremely fast. Should be a terrific run stopper in a 4-3 system, or an immovable object in a 3-4.
He's not a dominating pass rusher in the mold of Ndamukong Suh, but he most likely won't be asked to be a penetrating pass rusher in the NFL. He has been inconsistent throughout college has he has learned to use his technique to beat blockers as opposed to just his strength. He'll be 24 years old as a rookie. Still needs to improve in the nuisances of the game (you can read that as what's usually called instincts) and some scouts question his motor.
Player comparison: NFL.com -- Haloti Ngata. I don't think he's as athletic as Ngata is, personally.
My comparison: Marcus Stroud. I wasn't following the draft closely when Stroud was in college, but Lotulelei reminds me of Stroud, a perennial Pro Bowler for the Jacksonville Jaguars I think Lotulelei offers more athleticism as a pass rusher, though.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
Yes. The biggest knock on Lotulelei is generally his motor, but plenty of players have overcome that. What often happens for guys like Lotulelei on teams that lack the depth of top contenders is that they can't leave the field with any regularity and they get over-played by their coaches. These guys also don't get the benefit of NFL quality personal trainers, dieticians, and the like when they are twenty-something year-old kids making their own food choices at college ... a lot of guys with motor questions put it together (there were some JPP motor questions if you can believe that heading into the draft, as well as Carlos Dunlap, and Michael Johnson and many other examples who have turned out fine). When you're a big guy like Lotulelei you can't be on the field all the time so I'm not too worried about his motor, but if like Quinton Coples he does happen to fall close to the Giants or even to the Giants he'd be a steal. He can be a dominating presence in the run game and having Lotulelei coupled with Linval Joseph might solve the run game defensive troubles real fast.
Once again this video was posted by @jmpasq a huge New York sports team fan (Giants specifically).
Big Board Rankings
Lotulelei is a player who could be selected in the top five if everything checks out during the combine process. Lotulelei is a versatile player who would fit any defensive system because of his terrific strength and good athleticism for his size. He might not ever be a dominating pass rusher, but he will most certainly should be a good lynch pin for whatever team drafts him.
Follow me on twitter @NFLmocks