Shoring up the interior of the defensive line was among the most pressing needs for the Buffalo Bills this off-season. Enter Star Lotulelei.

The team reportedly will sign the 28-year-old to a five-year deal at the onset of free agency, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter who initially reported on the news. Lotulelei had spent the entirety of his five-year career with the Carolina Panthers, who picked him 14th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Lotulelei was a highly touted defensive tackle coming out of Utah in the 2013 NFL draft. He began his rookie season as the starting defensive tackle and started all 16 games. He was very effective in his rookie season, finishing as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-best interior defender. He was named to the All-Rookie Team and finished fourth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

He followed up his maiden season in the league with another highly successful second year. He gained a reputation as a run stuffer and was part of a very effective Panthers defensive front. In 2015 he was an integral part of the Panthers run to Super Bowl 50.

Despite his success in the NFL, he has been trending down in recent years. He has never been able to put up big sack numbers, but he has been known as a very effective defender against the run. However, it appears he has taken a step back in that regard. According to PFF, his “Run Stop” percentage has gone down every single year.

In 2013 (his rookie season), he was third in his position against the run, but since then, he hasn’t been any higher better than 28th. Lotulelei is still a very effective player since he attracts double teams, but his downhill spiral is cause for concern. He has shown he has the potential to be a top-tier defensive tackle but his recent production is not encouraging.

Overall, despite his recent struggles, his overall potential and relatively young age make him one of the more sought-after defensive tackles in the league. And this signing reunites him with Sean McDermott who was his defensive coordinator in Carolina before he took the Buffalo Bills head coaching job.

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