With the 14th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers selected the Utah Utes' Star Lotulelei. The defensive tackle was rated as the No. 2 overall prospect on SB Nation's Top 200 Big Board, and the best available at his position.
Lotulelei didn't come out of high school as a sure-fire NFL first rounder. He first played a year at Snow College before transferring to Utah, and played primarily as a backup for the Utes until the end of his sophomore season. The 6'2, 311-pound tackle didn't start making a major impact until his junior season, when he recorded nine tackles-for-loss. He rose up draft boards as senior, showing his ability to rush the passer with five sacks.
Lotulelei, once believed to be the draft's top prospect before health concerns came up, is a steal in the mid-first-round for Carolina, who addressed a key need at the defensive tackle spot.
In the run game, Lotulelei's game is based around his first step. Not only is it quick, but he does a good job of anticipating the snap count. When he can get off the line of scrimmage fast, it allows him to get leverage on offensive linemen and move them around. Lotulelei is powerful throughout his frame, so he can use his upper body to move linemen around and his legs to drive them backward. He has quick hands to shed blockers and move toward the ball.
Weight: 311 pounds
Arm length: 33 5/8 inches
Hands: 9 3/4 inches
Lotulelei didn't participate in any of the drills at the NFL Combine. The most important discovery for him at the event was an irregular heartbeat. Fortunately, doctors at the University of Utah have found that it is not the result of a chronic condition, according to the USA Today.
Lotulelei should provide instant help in the middle of the defensive line. He has room to grow in terms of technical abilities, but his size and explosiveness are already enough to compete in the NFL.