Freak Show 2013: #5


October 13, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (92) breaks through the defense of UCLA Bruins center Jake Brendel (54) during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Every year there are a few prospects who are a cut above the rest when it comes to their athleticism. ‘Freak’ is the cliche` that they are tagged with. I will be starting a short “series” featuring my preliminary top 5 freaks for the 2013 draft.

Number 5..

Star Lotulelei: DT, Utah.

Lotulelei may not stand out as a typical athletic freak when viewed at first glance. At 6’3″ and nearly 330 lbs, he looks more like your run-of-the-mill nose tackle that usually cares more about the location of the nearest buffet than he would about his mobility.

His strength is obvious when putting on the tape. He moves o-lineman at will when he is 1-on-1, and doesn’t budge when double teamed.He should come in as one of the strongest defensive tackles in the draft and could push Stephen Paea’s record for bench press reps (though I think Lotulelei’s arms are too long).

Lotulelei’s freakiness comes from his unreal burst off the snap. He looks like he was in the offensive huddle and heard the snap count before each play. I would consider his burst to be NFL-quality on a defensive end 50-60 pounds lighter. His quickness-size ratio is unreal and is a big reason he is a top 10 prospect at this point.

Haloti Ngata set a precedent when it comes to athleticism at the nose tackle position (Ngata was so athletic he moved to the defensive end/UT position). Suh was considered freaky for a DT, but it was well known that he was too slender and gap-unconscious to play the nose. Lotulelei has a wide build and the weight to anchor a 3-4 line.

When people think of freaky prospects, they may not picture a nose tackle, but Lotulelei has the type of rare athleticism that scouts truly appreciate.