Cardinals select Utah DT Leki Fotu in 4th round of 2020 NFL Draft

Apr 25, 2020, 9:45 AM | Updated: 2:38 pm
Utah defensive lineman Leki Fotu speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting comb...

Utah defensive lineman Leki Fotu speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

The Arizona Cardinals added brute force at the interior of the defensive line by selecting Utah Utes defensive tackle Leki Fotu with the 114th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Fotu joins a defensive line that is short on depth, and he could immediately compete for playing time as defensive coordinator Vance Joseph heavily rotates his tackles and ends.

The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Fotu tallied a combined 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks for Utah over the past two seasons. While not a pure pass-rusher, he is a big body who could join nose tackle Corey Peters and 341-pound free agent addition Jordan Phillips in the rotation.

“Just super excited to go up there and go to work,” Fotu said on a conference call.

Fotu said he believes that run-stopping is his strength, but he can do more in the pass-rushing game than his sack numbers suggest.

“Right now, I know that’s my strength, stuffing the run,” he said. “At the same time, you know, I know in Utah the scheme that I was in there, that’s what most people see.

“I know that I’m a pass rusher and I’m excited to start with the Cardinals D-line coach and help me exploit the area because I know I have more than just being a big guy in the middle and helping out the defense with applying pressure and getting to the quarterback.”

The Cardinals still have an starter opening along the defensive line.

Fotu, defensive end Zach Allen and the re-signed Jonathan Bullard could compete for playing time there. After that trio, 2019 seventh-round pick Michael Dogbe and undrafted Miles Brown are among the depth on the line.

At the 2020 NFL Draft Combine, Fotu ran a 5.15-second 40-yard dash. He has a background as a rugby player.

“Playing and transitioning into football, it definitely helped me out and helped mold the player that I am today,” Fotu said. “The way that I move right now with my size, in rugby you have to be able to move and run and be conditioned as a big guy. Being on the defensive side, in rugby there’s no pads or anything involved, so when you come back to football wearing pads you have the courage to do anything.”

His brother, Anthony Fotu, played college football for the Arizona Wildcats.

Clemson's Isaiah Simmons reacts after stopping Alabama's Najee Harris during the first half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2020, file photo, North offensive tackle Josh Jones of Houston (70) plays during the second half of the Senior Bowl college football game in Mobile, Ala. Jones was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the NFL football draft Friday, April 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) Fourth round (114th overall)

Utah DT Leki Fotu
(Photo by Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Fourth round (131st overall)

LSU DL Rashard Lawrence
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Sixth round (202nd overall)
California ILB Evan Weaver
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin, left, avoids a tackle by Oregon State defensive back Jaydon Grant during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

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