USA TODAY Sports
Once highly regarded DT Star Lotulelei failed his physical at the NFL Combine due to a heart condition the question many teams and fans are asking is 'What does this mean, can he play football or not'? Well the answer is we just don't know yet.
Lotulelei has been told to get more opinions and I imagine every heart specialist in the country will be considered for an opportunity to weigh in. Many teams at the top of the draft will wait with baited breathe to see how those opinions fall out, including the first team likely to draft him, the Oakland Raiders:
Oakland Raiders cannot panic about Star Lotulelei's health
It is true Lotulelei’s stock will drop because he was unable to work out at the Combine, but his immense talent on the field should compensate for that. Lotulelei was able to talk with teams in Indianapolis, so most of the NFL will at least get to know him personally. The personality of these players are nearly as important as their actual physical measurements so if teams can get to know how he deals with adversity like this it could significantly help him on draft night.
The time for panic may come later when Lotulelei undergoes further testing prior to his pro day on March 20. If it is confirmed to be a chronic heart condition it could be a sign of possible heart damage which will no doubt send him plummeting down draft boards if he even decides to play in the NFL.
The author makes a good point about attitude and desire to overcome adversity. It's very possible a dozen heart specialists weigh in and do not come back with a consensus or even clear answer. It might be 'Let's take a wait and see approach'. That's the scenario that helps the Panthers the best I think, provided in the end Lotulelei's condition doesn't end up impacting his play. What might tip the balance as the author suggests is Lotulelei's attitude and desire to overcome adversity. Will he take a Sam Mills approach or will he take a Jeff Otah approach? No matter what the second opinions say I think he will still get a chance to play if he wants to.
If the consensus opinion comes back negative then Lotulelei might slide way past the Panthers to the 2nd round like DaQuan Bowers did last season (pick #51). Bowers ended up having a nice season but that doesn't really mean anything for Lotulelei.
On the other hand if the reports come back all positive then Lotulelei won't make it out of the top 10 if he even makes it past the Raiders at #3. They are desperate for a DT so if they pass on Geno Smith then Lotelelei is an obvious pick as BPA meets need for the Raiders.
So there is still hope for the Panthers as a cloudy result is more probable than a consensus in either direction in my view.Stay tuned till March 20th and maybe it will clear up by then.