2024 Exclusive Sneak Peek: Laiatu Latu

Laiatu Latu, UCLA

2024 Exclusive Sneak Peek: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA


Welcome to the Exclusive Sneak Peek: Laiatu Latu is an edge rusher out of UCLA. He is from Sacramento, CA and was a 4-star recruit out of Jesuit High School in Sacramento, CA.

He started his career with the Washington Huskie where he appeared in 8 games as a freshman. In that 2019 season, he recorded 10 solo tackles, 5 assists, 1.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks and 1 pass defended.

He sustained a neck injury during the 2020 season which forced him to miss the season and ultimately led to a brief retirement from football altogether. After being medically cleared, he transferred to UCLA for his junior season in 2022.

In his first year with UCLA, he appeared in 13 games where he recorded 23 solo tackles, 13 assists, 12.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 fumble recovery, and 3 forced fumbles. A truly elite season that demonstrated his potential as an elite edge rusher.

His final collegiate season in 2023 saw him appear in 12 games where he piled up 28 solo tackles, 21 assists, 12.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 2 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles.


Measurables

Height: 6’5” (80th-percentile)                                 

Weight: 265 lbs (20th-percentile)

Age: 23.2                                                      

Class: Senior


NCAA Statistics

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2019WashingtonPac-12FRLB8105151.50.5000100
2020WashingtonPac-12SOLB
*2022UCLAPac-12JR1323133612.510.500011003
*2023UCLAPac-12SRDL1228214921.513.024623.0020002
CareerOverall613910035.524.024623.0041005
Washington105151.50.5000100
UCLA51348534.023.524623.0031005
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2024.

Scouting Reports

Strengths

  • Excellent size and possesses elite speed for a defender his size.
  • Is versatile enough and big enough to play out of both 2 and 3-point stances.
  • He has great lateral agility with a quick twitch that makes him elusive.
  • Has an excellent set of skill techniques that allow him to consistently beat blocks against the pass.

Weaknesses

  • He lacks awareness when defending the run and looks lost at times.
  • Struggles to shed blocks against the run and needs to refine his technique.
  • Has below-average arm length which could be a severe limitation to his ceiling.
  • His medical history is a huge red flag that could see him plummet in that draft if the concerns are not adequately squashed.

Pre-Draft Analysis

Expected Draft Capital: Mid 1st Round

Ideal Landing Spot: New Orleans Saints

Laiatu Latu UCLA
Courtesy of nflmockdraftdatabase.com

The Saints are a cap-strapped and aging roster that is getting worse by the day, so it makes natural sense that they dip into the rookie market to find a young star edge rusher to revamp their defence.

Verse is a great combination of size and speed and is pro-ready. He would step right into the lineup with ease should the Saints choose to contend in 2024 and would be a long-term piece to move forward with a rebuild.

He would easily become the centrepiece to a new-look Saints defence if they chose to select him and could be the first step to them getting out of their ever-present cap woes.

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