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2015 NFL DRAFT

2013 NFL Draft: Lotulelei passed "gold standard" of heart tests

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
If teams are convinced he's healthy, Lotulelei is unlikely to slip out of the top 10. (USATSI)

Shortly after teams received the medical reports from the combine, multiple teams informed NFLDraftScout.comthat Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei would be removed from their draft board because of a possible heart issue.

According to a source close to Lotulelei, the 6-3, 311-pound defensive tackle has since passed "at least 10 tests, including two Cardiac MRIs, the gold standard of medical testing of the human heart."

NFLDraftScout.com has obtained a letter that was part of the literature sent to teams explaining the details of the medical tests. The letter is signed by Dr. Josef Stehlik, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Utah.

A University of Utah doctor signing the letter to clear a former Ute player? Sounds suspicious, right?

According to the source, Stehlik's opinion was requested by an NFL team and that the doctor granted his name being used publicly, which is a statement in itself about his con Lotulelei's results have been confirmed by other doctors, including those employed by clubs. They requested not to be named publicly but did share their opinion with the NFL.

Based on the expert opinions, the NFL, according to the source, is not requesting Lotulelei return to Indianapolis for a medical re-check along with other high-profile prospects, including Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner and Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan.

This would be a stunning reversal; the league typically requests most players with any medical concern – from broken bones to, in Milliner's case, recovery from shoulder surgery -- to go through another battery of exams.

The NFL might be satisfied with these doctors' medical opinions. Still, each individual team will have its own decision to make. Teams trust their own doctors more than they do one who sends them a letter, requested or not.

Each of the players invited to the combine are asked to undergo an echocardiogram as part of the standard medical screening in Indianapolis.

The test is considered a fair and relatively cost-effective evaluative tool but isn't as trusted by doctors as the "Holter Test" in which the patient is asked to wear a vest for up to 48 hours or a "Stress Test" in which patients' heart activity is compared after significant physical activity to their normal levels. Lotulelei, NFLDraftScout.com was told, passed each of these, as well as the all-important Cardiac Magnetic Reasoning Test (MRI), which uses magnets and radio waves to take a picture of the heart.

The medical questions make Lotulelei, a two-time first-team All Pac-12 selection, a risky selection in the top 10, perhaps, though he undeniably has the talent to warrant such a pick.

If there were no questions about his medical, he'd be a lock for such a selection, perhaps even earning consideration at No. 1 overall to Kansas City and certainly No. 2 overall to Jacksonville, due to their league-worst 20 sacks a season ago.

Possessing a unique combination of power and overall athleticism, Lotulelei is intriguing to 4-3 and 3-4 teams, alike. He's a spectacular talent, who, even with his medical concerns ranks 16th overall on NFLDraftScout.com's board and 21st overall on my own Big Board.

He's certainly getting plenty of attention from teams eager to learn more about him. NFLDraftScout.com has confirmed that Lotulelei has plans to either visit or work out privately with 10 NFL clubs, virtually all of which are among those holding selections in the top half of the first round.

 
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