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After Months of Speculation, the 2024 N.F.L. Draft Is Finally Here

SportAfter Months of Speculation, the 2024 N.F.L. Draft Is Finally Here

The Indianapolis Colts selected UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu with the No. 15 pick.

The Athletic NFL Draft analyst Dane Brugler on Latu: A one-year starter at UCLA, Latu was an outside edge rusher in former defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn’s scheme, splitting his time standing up and rushing with his hand on the ground (was also schemed inside at times). Medically rejected at Washington, he was cleared by doctors after transferring to UCLA and was extremely productive over the past two seasons, with 129 total pressures in 25 games. After leading the FBS in tackles for loss in 2023, the consensus All-American cleaned up on the awards circuit as a senior, taking home the Morris Trophy (best DL in Pac-12), Ted Hendricks Award (top DE in FBS) and Lombardi Award (top OL/DL in FBS).

For pass rushers, there is a saying: “Beat the hands, beat the man.” Latu lives by this principle with the cohesive way he weaponizes his hands and feet to defeat blocks (led the FBS with a 24.6 percent pass-rush win percentage in 2023). As a run defender, his lack of ideal length and pop will show at times, but he made significant improvements with his read/react in this area as a senior.

Overall, Latu’s medical history will play a major part in his draft grade, but he is a pass-rush technician with the instinctive feel and athletic bend to be an impactful “two-way go” rusher in the NFL. His play style and journey are reminiscent of Miami Dolphins 2021 first-rounder Jaelan Phillips.

GO FURTHER

2024 NFL Draft and fantasy football: Winners, losers, every skill position pick, Caleb Williams and more


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