Mel Kiper NFL Mock Draft 2013: Star Lotulelei falls to the Buccaneers

Jonathan Daniel

Mel Kiper's latest mock draft is out, and he has the Buccaneers selecting arguably the best defensive tackle in the draft in Star Lotulelei.

Pick analysis: This isn't the top need for the Bucs, but assuming everything checks out for Lotulelei on the medical front, he'd be a total steal here and allow Greg Schiano to create depth and make this a potentially dominant run defense going forward.

Free-agency factor: If defensive end Michael Bennett lands elsewhere in free agency, the Bucs will be looking for help at that spot. The pick of Lotulelei here would just be a steal in terms of how the board breaks.

What is Kiper's obsession with improving the Bucs' run defense? Yes, they were awful in 2011. You know, I think they kind of fixed that last season by allowing fewer rushing yards than any other NFL team. Still, Lotulelei would be an interesting pick. He'd probably play nose tackle, but has the quickness and ability to still make an impact as a pass rusher from that position. He'd be valuable in this defense, but I don't know how highly valued a nose tackle should be.

There's another issue, too: if Lotulelei falls this far it's likely because his heart condition is non-trivial. And in that case, selecting him there could be problematic to say the least. Careful monitoring of that medical condition would be warranted, and it may limit what he can do in the future. Still, it's hard not be intrigued by the possibility of teaming up Star Lotulelei and Gerald McCoy.

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