2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Laiatu Latu




  • Laiatu Latu, 6-5/265
  • Defensive End
  • UCLA

Laiatu Latu Scouting Report

By Charlie Campbell

Strengths:

  • Instinctive
  • Superb hand usage
  • Excellent motor
  • Advanced read-and-react skills
  • Good vision
  • Adjusts well to moving quarterbacks, running backs
  • Burst off the ball
  • Good get off
  • Enough speed to get around the corner
  • Dangerous inside rush move
  • Has a burst to close on the quarterback
  • Functional strength, length
  • Ability to use hands and feet at same time
  • Active hands
  • Able to shed blocks
  • Agile; not stiff
  • Nice ability to redirect
  • Tough run defender
  • Upside to get better
  • Versatile for 3-4 or 4-3 defense

Weaknesses:

  • Not a pure speed demon
  • Could use refinement of pass-rushing moves
  • Decent, but not elite, speed
  • Serious neck injury at Washington

Prospect Summary:

Latu’s collegiate career almost ended early due to injury issues. A serious neck injury cost him the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Then Washington Huskies coach Jimmy Lake said Latu’s career was over. After seeing more specialists and transferring to UCLA, Latu received clearance to start playing again. He then broke out for the Bruins in 2022 with 10.5 sacks, 36 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. As a senior, Latu was even better, recording 49 tackles with 21.5 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and two passes batted.

There is no doubt that Latu has a good skill set for the NFL. He has good size, strength, enough quickness, and athleticism. Latu possesses a phenomenal motor, offering relentless effort in both phases, which makes him a very disruptive edge defender.

As a pass rusher, Latu is not a pure speed demon off the edge, but he is a versatile defender. Latu shows superb hands usage to fight off blockers, and he is very skilled at this technique. With some quickness off the edge, Latu can use his hands and feet at the same time making it tough for tackles to latch onto him. Latu has an dangerous move to the inside as well as the functional strength on a swim move to dart to the inside of tackles with a burst to close on the quarterback in a hurry. Latu also displays the versatility to line up on the inside, and he can give guards a lot of problems with his quickness and hands. Latu shows nice vision, recognition, and ability to redirect to chase down moving quarterbacks. To top it off, Latu has fabulous instincts that seemingly put him a step ahead.

Latu is a solid in run defender who sets a strong edge and holds his ground against downhill runs. Latu uses his strong hands, length, and strength to shed blocks to chase down running backs for tackles. With his burst, Latu is dangerous to get upfield and blow up runs in the backfield. He is a well-rounded player who will be a contributor as a run defender in the NFL.

Latu should continue to build up his repertoire of pass-rushing moves for the next level. Adding club, rip and spin moves would make him more dangerous and versatile for attacking pro offensive tackles.

Latu looks destined to end up as a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and a future three-down starter.

Prospect Comparison:

Jaelan Phillips. In terms of style of play, Latu reminds me of Phillips. Phillips has a little more speed, athleticism and explosion, while Latu showed more instincts and hand usage. They are almost identical in size and had some similarities in their development as collegiate players. Latu could potentially become an NFL edge rusher similar to Phillips.





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