Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei no longer holds the top overall spot among 2013 NFL Draft prospects as was the case before the season began, but the consensus All-American is still near the top, coming in at No. 3 in Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest rankings.
Lotulelei registered 42 tackles, 10 of which resulted in lost yardage, and five sacks in his senior year at Utah, despite the 6'4, 325-pound lineman being double-teamed on nearly every play. Kiper has some positive things to say about Lotulelei, who ranks behind only Georgia's Jarvis Jones and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o:
Consistently at the center of what opposing offenses must work around, he absorbs so much blocking help. Demands double-teams and clogs the middle of the field. A great sense for disrupting the run game, with power to bull rush. Quick off the ball with great upper-body strength. Coaches rave about him.
In spite of Lotulelei's dominance on the defensive side of the football, the Utes finished the 2012 season with a disappointing 5-7 record in their second year of Pac-12 play. Last year, the Utes posted a respectable 8-5 record in their first season playing in a major conference.
If Kiper's rankings play out, Lotulelei will join Alex Smith (No. 1 overall in 2004) and Jordan Gross as top 10 NFL Draft picks to come out of the University of Utah.