Fansided.com’s Josh Hill (formerly of the Pewter Plank) has posted his most recent NFL Mock Draft, and he has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from Utah. Star has become a trendy pick for the Buccaneers, as concerns over his health have plummeted him from a possible number one pick to a spot in the middle of round one, or lower.
So what exactly is wrong with Star Lotulelei? He suffers from a low ejection fraction of the left ventricle of his heart. Ejection fraction is basically just a number assigned to the level at which a ventricle pumps blood. Star’s percentage of ejection fraction is slightly lower than it should be, as his left ventricle is working a 44% as compared to an American Heart Association recommended 55%. Ryan Carreon of the Desert News noted in his report about Star’s condition that symptoms of the condition, which typically include shortness of breath and the possibility of a dangerously high heart rate, don’t begin until a ventricle drops below 40%. Because of this fairly positive outlook, he was cleared to exercise. Carreon had this to say about Lotulelei’s future:
If Lotulelei’s condition is not serious, he should be able to compete at a high level. However, health concerns could cause his draft stock to fall considerably. Lotulelei is expected to fully participate in Utah’s pro day March 20.
So what does Star bring as a football player? He’s big, strong, quick, and knows the game. He’s the perfect package at the defensive tackle position, and has more size, strength, and ability than Roy Miller. He’d be able to play next to Gerald McCoy and more than fill the role that Miller has left vacant. In fact, he would rival McCoy for the role of best player on the defensive line, with his combination of size and strength troubling opposing offensive lines every week.
I think Lotulelei must be very closely evaluated, and serious homework has to be done about his condition. But if everything checks out, I would be happy if Star was to find his way to Tampa Bay, because he would instantly improve the defensive line. Plus, how else can you be sure to get a Star with a first round pick?
(Sorry, that was bad.)