According to Chris Mortenson of ESPN, Utah's Star Lotulelei has a heart condition that will keep him from participating in tomorrow's defense line and linebacker Combine drills. This is an obviously crushing blow for Lotulelei, who is universally considered a top prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft. The heart condition was detected during medical testing by NFL doctors. Now the NFL is asking that Lotulelei meet with his doctors in Utah before working out for teams.
Mortensen explains the issues with Lotulelei's heart:
Lotulelei was discovered with an abnormally low Ejection Fraction, detecting that the left ventricle of his heart was pumping at only 44 percent efficiency, sources said. The normal range is between 55-70 percent efficiency.
Lotulelei had been targeted by a lot analysts and fans as a target for the Eagles. With this news, his draft value could be in question. He will now undergo more testing in Utah to better understand the condition. Mortensen spoke to a source who indicated that if the testing revealed a chronic condition, doctors would likely find heart damage.
Mike Mayock has Lotulelei as his number two defensive tackle and both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have him as a Top 5 pick. He is also the number one prospect for Scouts Inc. This is obviously all speculation at this point and after this news, there is likely to be speculation that Lotulelei's stock will drop and he will fall in the draft. No one knows what will happen until these tests are completed.
As for the Eagles, the team likely would use him as a 5-technique or a nose tackle if they draft him in April. The question is, with this heart condition news, does he not have the same appeal? A guy who was considered one of the safer picks could now be a health risk, depending on his test results. If you were in the Eagles shoes, would you take the risk, pending his results?
Editor's Note: Remember, we have seen guys be diagnosed with serious conditions like Mike Patterson, Marcus Cannon and Mark Herzlich, and then return to play. Will be interesting to see how this all plays out.