Linebacker, UNLV Ht:6-1, Wt:235
With the NFL Draft coming up, it's time to take a look at players who could get drafted this April. One of those candidates is linebacker Tau Lotulelei from UNLV. Having joined the team as a walk-on in 2012, Lotulelei eventually worked his way into the starting lineup and became one of the Rebels most dependable players. In his three seasons (redshirted in ‘12) at UNLV, he racked up 318 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, and 3 pass defenses. In addition, Lotulelei was named to the 2016 all Mountain West first team for his career high 117 tackles,player of the week (Oct ‘16), and was a Mountain West honorable mention in 2015.
Lotulelei does a very good job in the run game. In the video below, you can see how he is able to quickly find the lane and engage the runner. However, he also has some issues disengaging blockers or holding his own against stronger backs at times. This will be an issue at the next level as the lineman and backs in the NFL are much bigger, but this issue can easily be fixed with a little coaching and maturing.
Tau also seems to be the most effective when he is closer to the line of scrimmage, which at the beginning of his career will force him to be a one dimensional player that teams deploy on third downs when blitzing. He will also need to work on his instincts in the passing game as he can become too hesitant at times, something many quarterbacks will take advantage of.
As he transitions to the NFL, Lotulelei’s best asset will be his ability to tackle and his best chance of making a team will come on special teams until he fully grows into his body where he then could become a solid back up linebacker. With that being said, look to see him come off the board between rounds 5-7 or sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.