Browns, NFL Draft

The Browns and the First Round: Star Lotulelei

Star L

We are less than a week from the NFL Draft, also known as the most important day of the year for your Cleveland Browns. With (another) new regime taking over the reigns and new schemes in place on both sides of the ball, it is crucial that Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Ray Farmer, Rob Chudzinski and the crew nail these three days. It all starts Thursday night with the primetime First Round. 

The Browns currently hold the sixth pick. Will they go with a defensive back? Could they turn to a pass rusher? Would they possible fortify the offensive line? Could they shock everyone and take an additional offensive weapon? Or maybe, just maybe, would they trade the pick to a team that wants to move up and snag one of those top offensive tackles?

From now until Thursday’s first round, a different member of the WFNY staff will take their look at one player in particular and tell you why the Browns, should they choose to, would go in this direction.

Star LThe Player:

Name: Star Lotulelei

Position: DT

School: Utah

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 311 lbs.

Whom he would replace: Ahtyba Rubin?

Why he makes the most sense for the Browns: Once the top prospect in all of the draft by Kiper, Lotulelei’s best position is as a 3’4″ DE. The Browns are converting to that defense. He has been described by some as having Haloti Ngata type potential. If the Browns are committed to fixing the front seven first, Lotulelei could be a piece to that puzzle. It would offer the Browns a chance to potentially trade Rubin for another decent draft pick, player or combination of both. Would help the Browns stop the run.

What the experts say: “No medical questions. Tape shows a player who can’t be blocked in the run game one-on-one, period — but he’s not a very good pass-rusher. He absorbs so much blocking help and frees up others, but he’s not just a clogger, because he can show off a burst that he marries to a great sense for disrupting the run game in the backfield. Quick off the ball with great upper- and lower-body strength.”- Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN

“Lotulelei’s ideal fit is as a 3-4 end, but he has the versatility to play nose tackle and increase the flexibility of the defensive front. With his strong hands, nimble feet and range, Lotulelei brings plenty to the table.” – Todd McShay, ESPN

“Going from not qualifying academically out of high school to go to BYU, to delivering furniture during that first year not playing football, through junior college and to Utah, Lotulelei has developed a work ethic and determination that is uncommon amongst 300+ pound DT’s. For a player who was so highly regarded entering the 2012 season, I was expecting to be disappointed as I usually am by hyped players. However, Star jumped out early in the first game I evaluated against USC and just kept getting better and making more impact plays. He no doubt must become quicker taking on and shedding OL run blocks and needs to improve his pass rush repertoire, but his physical talent is unquestionable. Overall, Lotulelei is going to be a Top 20 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft because he has a rare combination of size, strength, athleticism and competitiveness. I believe that he will be a highly productive starter in the NFL and what position he plays will depend entirely on what team selects him. I think he can be equally effective as a DE in a 34 scheme or a DT in a 43 defense.” – Sports Illustrated

“Powerful and agile starting nose tackle prospect. Versatile enough to play almost all interior defensive line positions across many types of fronts. Often the first player off the snap, will challenge the hand and foot quickness of guards inside. When choosing to bull rush, gets under his man’s pads and churns his legs to push him backwards. Thick arms eat up ball carriers coming into his path. Quick feet and a bit of short-area speed to spin off blocks inside and follow plays across the field. Flashes arm-over move to penetrate. Recognize screens and track them down, also willing to move down the line while engaged. Greatly improved on reading blocking schemes, locating the football, and disengaging over his last two seasons.” – NFL.com

Chances the Browns will take Lotulelei: It would be hard, in my opinion to justify taking Lotulelei or any other defensive lineman for that matter. The Browns invested in Desmond Bryant during free agency. Add him to a depth chart that includes Phil Taylor, Rubin, John Hughes, Billy Winn and Ishmaa’ly Kitchen. If the Browns were to work out a trade for Rubin, then taking a 3-4 DE would make some sense. A heart condition at the combine scared some teams away from Lotulelei, but he has been cleared since. Still, I don’t see the Browns using the sixth pick on him.

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Previous Profiles: Geno Smith, Dion Jordan, Dee Milliner

  • anon

    I don’t see anyone that’s concerting to a new scheme taking a 3’4″ DE.

  • mgbode

    the heart condition to be worried about if the Browns take Starlite is that of their fans

    (yes, that is his proper first name)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Wouldn’t seem to be an option given the free agent signings plus players already on the roster but you never know. I expect a trade down.

  • Harv 21

    I’m all about drafting a name guy in the first round. Personally, I think Barkevious Mingo is a better name than someone who sounds like me asking for my Hawaiin string instrument three rounds and half a bottle of Woodford into another disappointing draft.

    Best Name Available. Let’s do this thing.

  • mgbode

    we do have some good names:
    Starlite
    Ziggy
    Barkevious
    Mingo
    Dee (need to draft 2nd player named Fence)

    best stay away from a draft pick named Fluker
    and D-On Jordan usually failed, so stay away from him too

    Looks like Mingo wins based on being on the good name list twice.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Plus, the fit with the Browns’ Dawg Pound… are the Browns not destined to pick a guy named Bark-evious?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I dunno, maybe if he also plays a mean cello?

  • saggy

    He’s no Michael Dean Perry

  • mgbode

    not destined or else we have to also draft Matt Barkley, Bark on offense and defense?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Unfortunately that does feel very “Browns” to me to trade up and grab Barkley.

  • mgbode

    if he gets bacon to replace that pesky middle bread on the Big Mac, then I’m all-in!!!

  • Harv 21

    We’re all very whimsical about this but, seriously, I feel a sense of impending doom with this draft, so much so that I may not watch it at all and the complete opposite of last year. Does anyone else feel like Lombardi/Banner is going to out-think themselves and choke Thurs night?

    Never feel this way before a draft. What if this means we’re about to score three HOFers and another first rounder for next year. What if this IS the Great Lombardi Redemption, the hire that cemented Banner’s genius rep. What if …

  • Vindictive_Pat

    If that is the case, then I want to thank you for not being one of the rubbernecks I sit behind so often on I-95. However, this time I’m not sure if I can turn away from the flaming wreckage to join you on the moral high ground… there are smoldering tires rolling around and bodies strewn everywhere! I’ll be there watching on Thursday night. If Lombardi/Banner nuke the Browns’ draft, part of me will be sick to my stomach and part of me will be amused at the spectacle.

  • mgbode

    how can you not be intrigued?

    honestly, did Holmgren/Heckert not out-think themselves at times? Mangini undoubtedly did. Savage was the out-thinker attorney general. Butch gave up a 2nd round pick to move up 1 slot for a TE.

    I’m pretty immune to FO disasters. We’ve seen that movie. We’ll know pretty quickly if we are witnessing another and can change the channel then.

  • Agreed, I say Trade down to 11, grab Womack if he is there. Arguably the best OL in the NFL could due wonders for our running game and for Weeden,

  • mgbode

    Porkchop is in the draft?

  • Well played sir, *Warmack. I blame that typo on Siri.

  • Harv 21

    MG and Pat: yes, all these recent FOs out-thought themselves into pretzels, trading up/down/sideways, sometimes mesmerized by a single player (“Butchie, Hopeless Romantic”), sometimes following some secret algorithm that we mere mortals could only hope to decipher (“Phil and Eric, Smartest in Any Room … Ever”). No Cleve GM lets the game come to them, lets the other guy panic and calmly mops up the spills.

    I’m trying not to care. Trying to avoid this sinking feeling that the worst thing that could happen to a transparently ambitious Exec Turned Personnel Guy – who answers only to an activist owner, who hires a straw man GM totally beholden to him for career revival – is that his thirst to insert himself into an area of non-expertise goes unimpeded when the owner gets raided by the feds a few days before the draft. Usually I’m crazy optimistic, especially last year with all those damn picks in a deep draft. But this year nothing seems arranged for success, smugness and hubris and inexperience hover. If I don’t watch maybe everything will be all right.

    #clevedisease

  • maxfnmloans

    i hope you are wrong. I fear you are correct, for the exact reasons you stated above. Joe Banner scares the bejeesus out of me.