Star Lotulelei’s ability to play football has never been a question. The 6-4, 325-pound DT was a 2-time First-Team All-Pac 12 selection at the University of Utah and he was also a Morris Trophy winner in 2011. What has become a question, though, is Lotulelei’s health.
During Lotulelei’s medical evaluation at the Combine last month, an echocardiogram revealed that his left ventricle was pumping at below average levels (44%). Officials would not let Lotulelei continue with Combine activities, so he went back to Utah for more testing. Those developments caused teams to take a step back and re-evaluate Lotulelei’s pro prospects.
Lotulelei was cleared by doctors to participate in Utah’s pro day, which occurred on Wednesday. And it should come as no surprise that he impressed teams with his performance. Lotulelei hoisted the 225-pound bench press 38 times, registered a 30-inch vertical leap and clocked a 4.65 in the shuttle. The 38 reps would’ve tied him for the most in his position group at the Combine.
Those numbers are very good, and they certainly confirm the feelings most scouts and coaches had about Lotulelei being one of the top defensive linemen in this year’s draft. So, once again, Lotulelei’s ability to play football isn’t a question. It’s his health that is the question.
This is the type of issue that will divide teams. A player with a medical condition such as the one Lotulelei has may be researched and cleared by one team, but a different team may look at the same information and flag the player. While NFL teams do share much of the medical information they obtain at the Combine, different teams have different thresholds of tolerance for different issues.
Where NFL teams – and, specifically, the Vikings – stand on the issue of Lotulelei and his heart condition remains to be seen. What we do already know is that Lotulelei looks to be a future star in the NFL if the heart condition doesn’t plague him.
Tags: 2013 NFL Draft
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