Shutdown Corner

Carolina Panthers select Utah DT Star Lotulelei with the 14th overall pick

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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The Carolina Panthers have selected Utah DT Star Lotulelei with the 14th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.

Pros: Displays tremendous power, burst and suddenness as a nose tackle -- either shading to the guard or with his head over center, which makes him a potential force in multiple fronts. Comes off the snap with alarming speed, pushes back with superior leverage and a wide base, and makes bad things happen to enemy blockers. Gets his hands out right away to attack the pads and chest of his opponent. Has the power to bull-rush and push blockers back, but his first instinct is to disrupt. At times, displays freakish upper-body strength and will throw a blocker aside to advance in the pocket.

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Cons: Plays a very high number of snaps and tends to wear down over time as a result -- late in games, he'll lose some strength, agility, and run-and-chase. Could use a more consistent set of pass-rush moves as he relies too much on his strength and starts to get pancaked when it runs short. Has struggled with weight in the past. Passed all the heart re-checks following irregular reading at the scouting combine, but some teams may still shy away.

What he brings to the team: Pure, unadulterated power. While it's clear that Lotulelei can become even better with a few technique fixes, it's his sheer physical dominance that puts him on a different level, and has some comparing him to Baltimore's Haloti Ngata. I'm of the opinion that while he isn't quite as agile as Ngata, he's even more powerful, and I'm reminded of Warren Sapp in his prime. Lotulelei doesn't have Sapp's ability to knife through blockers as a dominant pass-rusher, but in a power/speed sense, he's very comparable.

Was it the right pick? Oh, yeah. Carolina's defense just got a whole lot nastier up front.

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