Doug Kimmel with Scout.com and their Utes blog Inside the Utes sent me the write up below giving his impressions of Star Lotulelei and the impact he predicts he will have on the Panthers defense and NFL in general. Doug is not only a long-time Utes fan who attends every game but he is also a Panther fan who knows our team as much as any of us. So here is his take broken up a little where I decided to insert some of my own comments.
The Star of the Draft
by Doug Kimmel with www.InsideTheUtes.com
No offense to Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, or Chance Warmack, but I am confident that the best player in the 2013 NFL draft was Star Lotulelei. I believe Fisher, Joeckel, and Warmack will all enjoy long careers littered with trips to Hawaii (assuming that exist in five years) and will be foundations to their respective organizations for years to come. Yet, the impact that Star will bring to Carolina is unparalleled by any other player in the draft!
If I was Luke Kuechly, Big Beast, or Thomas Davis I would just be coming down from my natural high the #14 pick of the 2013 draft brought to me. Hell, Star won't be blowing blockers for me for the foreseeable future and I am just beginning to come down! Carolina might not know what they have yet, but after covering Star and the Utah Utes for Fox Sports/Scout.com for the past year, I believe they have the next great thing!
I think I'm still riding that 'high' that will soon turn to thanks for all the pundits that helped Star slide to us.
I watched Star's stock take a hit when he had the heart scare at the combine, to which I totally understand, but what I didn't understand is the critics that began to emerge when Star was momentarily down and out. I began hearing analyst say things like "even if Star didn't have the heart condition, I still don't believe he is worth a top pick, his motor is suspect..." Suspect!? I went to every Utah game this year, and I saw Star taking on 2-3 blockers on every single play. Number 92 players 92% of the plays this year, and never once did he take a play off.
More came from the woodwork during this time to point out Star's "inconsistent play" during the 2012 season... like I said, I went to every Utes game this year, and Star was about the one consistency the Utes had! Game in game out Star gobbled up his double and triple teams, and was able to come away with five sacks and 11 TFLs. Star was consistent enough to make it to six All-American teams and built on his 2011 campaign where he won the Morris Trophy (awarded to the Pac-12's best defensive lineman by vote of the league's starting offensive linemen). In 2011, Star was a dominant space-eater, in 2012 Star built upon that by becoming a dynamic playmaker, adding to his repertoire.
I also came across some early profiles that said Lotulelei was a tireless worker who never came off the field so I wondered what had happened for some many to recently claim he was inconsistent. I mean, if a guys job is to take on multiple blockers play after play and he still puts up the stats Star did then how does that reconcile with 'inconsistent'? It doesn't.
I cannot think of a weakness in Star's game... I have heard national pundits say he isn't a skilled pass rusher; once again this is not this case. Why didn't Star Lotulelei ever manufacture sacks like Warren Sapp did over his 13 year career? I highly doubt it, BUT I could see Star racking up 5+ sacks or more a year. The guy certainly doesn't need to come off the field on 3rd downs.
Though I expect him to rotate it is nice to know he is conditioned enough to not come off the field on 3rd down. We need his ability to collapse the pocket from the middle of the line.
Scheming for the Carolina Panthers front 4 went from a challenging to damn near impossible! Both Charles Johnson and the Kraken already demand extra attention, throw in Star into the mix and there is no winning for the opposition. At the very least, Carolina will have three guys who are worthy of double-teaming, and then a solid vet player in Dwan Edwards, a potential homerun in Kawann Short, and Frank Alexander who I believe could be the best third defensive end in football after 2013! I am sure Drew Brees and Matt Ryan are sleeping easy now, but come when the Fall rolls around... I wouldn't want to be them despite their hundred millions!
Doug might sound like he's being rhetorical here but money cannot replace your spleen after it gets crushed by the Panther front four!
Star Lotulelei will end up the most valuable pick in the 2013 draft. He may not have the sex appeal that ESPN is looking for, but Carolina Panthers have never really had that, nor do they want it. I have no doubt in my mind that his worth will exceed Dion Jordan, Ziggy Ansah, and Barkevious Mingo, all of which have a high potential to be busts. With Star, I have seen a lot of comparisons to Kevin Williams and Ndamukong Suh and I can totally see it. I personally believe Star is a blend of Casey Hampton and Haloti Ngata- Star has the ability to eat blockers and take up space as well as Casey Hampton, but he also has the explosiveness to destroy a play in the backfield like Ngata does for the Ravens.
So teams will need to double him very play or risk a bull rush to the backfield! Have no mercy Mr. McDermott, bring him every play!
David Gettleman has been preaching "big hog mollies" since arriving in Carolina, Thursday night, he landed THE hog of all hogmollies. The entire Carolina defense should be eager for the 2013 season, their lives just got a lot easier. Star will never create the attention like Cam, he will never display the fire of the Kraken, and he will never rack up the stats like Kuechly... but come 2015, I truly believe Star Lotulelei will be the most valuable player on the Carolina Panthers.
With a hellish 2013 schedule, a secondary that is suspect, and a 23-41 record since 2009 the Panthers are on very few radars... Star will change that faster than you can say "lo-too-leh-lay!"
'The Star of Hogmollies!' might just be the most overplayed phrase of the past week or so but I'm not tired of it just yet. I'm hoping every team the Panthers play leaves wondering what hogmollie truck they just got run over with!
A big CSR thanks to Doug Kimmel for sharing his thoughts on the Panthers lucky star selection at #14!