Facebook Pixel

    Laiatu Latu’s Draft Profile | UCLA, EDGE Scouting Report

    UCLA's Laiatu Latu has the scouting report to be one of the first players at his position selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. What is his NFL projection?

    The EDGE1 mantle in the 2024 NFL Draft seems to be up for grabs … unless UCLA’s Laiatu Latu has something to say about it with his scouting report. Latu was one of college football’s most prolific pass rushers for two years, and his tape matches up.

    Laiatu Latu Draft Profile and Measurements

    • Height: 6’4 3/4″
    • Weight: 259 pounds
    • Length: 32 5/8″
    • Wingspan: 78 1/4″
    • Hand: 9 5/8″
    • Position: Edge Rusher
    • School: UCLA
    • Current Year: Redshirt Senior

    For a time, it was unclear if we’d ever see the 2021 and 2022 versions of Latu.

    Latu started his college football career at Washington, where he arrived as a four-star recruit in 2019. He flashed promise in his true freshman season, but during fall camp ahead of 2020, he suffered a serious neck injury.

    That injury would keep Latu off the field for the entire 2020 season, and in the spring of 2021, head coach Jimmy Lake told the media that Latu had been medically retired. Doctors said he’d never play again — he’d be at risk of paralysis if he did.

    But Latu kept grinding and working to heal behind the scenes. He transferred to UCLA after the 2021 season, and in the spring of 2022, UCLA’s doctors medically cleared him to play football.

    Fast forward to today, and Latu is a bona-fide first-round prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, who was a devastating force against opposing offensive lines for the past two seasons.

    Latu had 10.5 sacks, 12.5 total tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles in 2022, and in 2023, he logged 49 tackles, including 21.5 total TFLs and 13 sacks, two picks, two pass breakups, and two more FFs.

    GET DRAFTING: FREE Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

    Latu’s 2023 performance made him the first UCLA Bruin to win the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top defensive lineman. He also won the Ted Hendricks Award, recognizing the country’s top defensive end.

    Now, after a triumphant return to the CFB stage, Latu is set to make the leap to the NFL.

    His production bodes well, as does his testing — he logged a 4.64 40-yard dash with a 1.62 10-yard split, a 4.34 shuttle time, and a 7.09 three-cone time at the NFL Combine. But how exactly does his game translate on tape?

    Latu’s Scouting Report

    Strengths

    • Has a strong and compact frame with good mass and passable length.
    • Explosive, unnaturally energized rusher with the control to offset and exploit blockers.
    • Twitched-up energy allows him to instantly recalibrate his hands after initial moves.
    • Possesses elite ankle flexion for his size and routinely uses flexibility to finish reps.
    • With hip flexibility, can redirect at the apex and pinch 270-degree angles to the QB.
    • Can sustain acceleration while dipping below the corner and pinching the pocket.
    • Flashes the ability to leverage his burst into force and power through interior gaps.
    • Advanced hand-fighter whose hips rest on a gyroscope, unlocking torque on punches.
    • Understands rushing angles and knows how to manipulate tackles to open paths.
    • Stacks inside-outside hand counters and combos with rare quickness and efficiency.
    • Can win with swims, chop-clubs, chop-rips, club-rips, and other lightning-quick volleys.
    • Deep pass-rushing bag allows him to have a counter for any situation and any leverage.
    • Has shown he has the play strength and leveraging to stack and shed run blockers.
    • Relentless attacker whose motor never dies, granting second- and third-effort chances.
    • Athletic and fluid enough to drop in coverage, hinge around, and patrol the flats.

    Weaknesses

    • Arm length is close to average, which does detract from maximum raw power capacity.
    • Doesn’t always take advantage of opportunities to drive power inside the OT’s frame.
    • First-step explosiveness, while very good, might be a notch below the elite tier.
    • Occasionally diverts too far upright when stunting across alignments.
    • Doesn’t always have the elite strength to pry himself through gaps after stunting.
    • Can be jarred by violent snatch moves when threatening the apex.
    • Sometimes loses his balance and is uncontrolled when attempting to set the edge.
    • Lower-body strength can improve in order to more often prevent displacement in run defense.
    • Will turn 24 years old in December of his rookie season.
    • Medically retired from football while at Washington due to a neck injury.

    Current Draft Projection and Summary

    Latu grades out as a top-20 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft and one of the top EDGE prospects in the class. Now that he has passed NFL Combine medical evaluations without any setbacks, he’s worthy of early-to-mid first-round capital and has the upside to be a game-changing presence for an NFL defense.

    Latu is perhaps the most exciting pass rusher in the 2024 NFL Draft EDGE class. Not only is he explosive, twitched-up, and insanely flexible for his size, but he also has deadly hand-fighting chops. He has a barrage of moves at his disposal, and he stacks combos and counters with elite quickness, precision, and reaction speed.

    Latu is unique in that he doesn’t have one go-to move he sticks to. He can vary his attack in real time based on the leverage he encounters, and he can adapt just as quickly with his free-flowing athleticism, ruthless hand placement, and efficiency.

    In run defense, Latu isn’t quite as consistent. He can still improve his overall play strength when anchoring and resisting displacement, and his balance when setting the edge can be inconsistent as well. Latu also diverts upright at times, making him easier to corral.

    Additionally, as a pass rusher, Latu isn’t quite as power-oriented as you’d expect. While he has shown he can drive power forward, he can be more opportunistic in using his twitch and energy to widen tackles, and he doesn’t quite have elite raw power capacity.

    Nevertheless, Latu has the physical and operational traits to hit the ground running as an impact pass-rushing force at the NFL level — preferably as a stand-up EDGE in odd and hybrid-front schemes — and he has enough strength, awareness, and urgency in pursuit to hold his own on running downs.

    KEEP READING: Top DTs in the 2024 NFL Draft

    As an edge defender in odd and hybrid-front schemes, Latu has impact starter and all-league upside. He might never be a top-flight run defender, but he has the tools and nuance to become one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

    Draft with your friends today! PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator now supports multiple drafters during the same draft! Ensure your player rankings are up to date on the 2024 NFL Draft Big Board and you know what every NFL team needs before drafting.

    Related Articles