NFL Hot Press: Round 2 Slide Possible for Latu

Laiatu Latu

A couple of weeks ago at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, a survey of team sources had UCLA’s Laiatu Latu as the consensus second-rated pass rusher for the 2024 NFL Draft, behind only Alabama’s Dallas Turner. Most teams said based on the film and skill set, they had rated Latu ahead of Florida State’s Jared Verse and thought Latu was worthy of going as a top-20 pick based on the film. However, they all noted there were medical concerns around Latu that could cause him to slide lower and see Verse selected before him. In following up with some team sources, they said the medical concerns are an issue that has left Latu’s draft range very fluid. Multiple team sources said they think it’s possible that Latu will slip to Round 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft because of the medical concerns.

With the Washington Huskies, a neck injury that cost Latu the 2020 and 2021 seasons was enough that the program encouraged him to retire. Latu entered the transfer portal instead, and ended up landing at UCLA, where he received medical clearance. He went on to have two excellent seasons with the Bruins, recording 10.5 sacks in 2022 and 13 sacks in 2023. Latu also recorded 49 tackles, two interceptions, two passes batted and two forced fumbles in 2023. He went on to have excellent performances at the Senior Bowl and at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

Team sources noted that on tape Latu did a nice job of compensating to use his shoulder and chest while tackling to help protect his neck and head. However, doctors can kill a player’s draft status with teams and get them removed from draft boards. Sources said that if Latu starts sliding, it could cause other teams that did not rule him out medically to be concerned that other teams did do that. Those sources shared they think that Latu has the potential of sliding to the second round, just like other recent draft prospects with medical concerns such as Myles Jack, Jawann Taylor, Jaylon Smith and Da’Quan Bowers.

It only takes one team to fall in love and be comfortable with the medical evaluation, and every team has felt that based on the tape and skill set that Latu is a worthy first-round pick. However, some sources believe the medical issue could cause him to slip to the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Those sources feel Latu would get drafted quickly at at that point because it would be worth the risk after the first round. In my latest 2024 NFL Mock Draft I have Latu still going in the first round, but teams think that it’s possible he slides to Round 2.