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2024 NFL Draft: Experts' analysis of Colts first-round pick Laiatu Latu

See what experts like's Daniel Jeremiah and The Athletic's Dane Brugler had to say about UCLA defensive end Laiatu Latu before the Colts selected him with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. 

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As Laiatu Latu makes his way to Indianapolis to join the Colts on Friday, it's worth re-visiting some pre-draft writeups of the UCLA defensive end who became the first defensive player taken in the 2024 NFL Draft.

For the Colts, Latu's tape, on-field production and personality made him the clear choice with the No. 15 overall pick on Thursday. His medical history was not a concern after general manager Chris Ballard and Colts' medical team dug into why Washington medically retired him in 2021, and how he came back from neck surgery to not miss a game over his two seasons at UCLA.

On the outside, though, Latu was the subject of several glowing pre-draft profiles – with the main concern about him his medical status. It's important to remember here the Colts have access to much more information about Latu's medicals than the public possesses.

Anyways, here's how a few prominent draft experts sized up Latu prior to the 2024 NFL Draft:

Daniel Jeremiah (

"Latu has ideal size, quickness and instincts for the position. As a pass rusher, he can win with his quick get-off or a variety of hand moves. He has an excellent feel for when offensive tackles overset or underset and adjusts accordingly. He doesn't have elite speed or power, but he wins with technique, bend and savvy. He can corner well at the top of his rush and is an outstanding finisher. Against the run, he's been inconsistent when it comes to setting the edge. He's shown the ability to shoot his hands, leverage blockers and hold the point of attack. However, there are other times his pad level is too high and he gets controlled. His effort is outstanding to chase, against both run and pass. Latu did have serious medical issues while at the University of Washington.

"Overall, Latu is the most skilled pass rusher in this class and should have an immediate impact at the next level."

Dane Brugler (The Athletic):

"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 AllAmerican 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 passrush 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."

Lance Zierlein (

"Latu possesses the kind of rare maturity to his game that you usually see from NFL veterans. He rarely stays blocked by tackles as a run defender and dominates blocking tight ends on the collegiate level. His pass-rush approach is both well conceived and instinctive, and he's brilliant at taking possession of the rep using clever hands and slippery angles to pry open opportunities. His eyes play beyond blockers, and he feeds off of a voracious motor that keeps him pushing forward as a run defender and pass rusher. Concerns surrounding his neck injury (while at Washington) will certainly come into play when he gets to medical exams, but his durability and play at UCLA are certainly promising. Everything about Latu's skill set and production is translatable to the NFL, and he could become a Pro Bowler as a 3-4 outside linebacker with a heavy influence on the game."

Steven Muench (

"Latu is an outstanding hand fighter who slips blocks, gets into the backfield and closes well, whether he's rushing the passer or defending the run and regardless of where he lines up. He recorded 34 tackles for loss and 23.5 sacks over the past two seasons. He's an explosive edge rusher with the burst, balance and bend to win with speed off the edge. And Latu can quickly redirect inside after starting upfield. He tracks the quarterback and falls back inside when the QB starts to step up. He has shown great perseverance overcoming a neck injury that forced him to miss two seasons earlier in his college career and led to a transfer to UCLA in 2022."

Danny Kelly (The Ringer):

"Latu plays as if he's spent the last month training blindfolded in Bloodsport. The UCLA star has a rugged frame and rushes the passer with excellent first-step burst and elite hand-fighting skills. He uncoils out of his stance and slaps, chops, and swats away opponents' hands with a full array of clubs in his bag as a rusher. He uses swim moves, cross chops, side scissors, hump moves, push-pull moves, a bounding Euro-step move, a bull rush, and an effective spin move, among others—and that well-developed repertoire has helped him displace opponents' momentum and lead the country in pass-rush win rate (40.7 percent) in true pass set situations last year, per PFF. Latu gets after the passer with ferocious intensity and a nonstop motor, showcasing turbo acceleration and good bend when turning the corner. He's a flexible athlete who can dip his shoulder, plant his foot, and flatten to the quarterback.

Latu primarily lines up outside but does see some snaps inside rushing against guards, who consistently struggle to deal with his quickness, burst, and handwork. He also has some experience spot dropping in space. Against the run, Latu does a good job establishing leverage and stacking his opponent, using his strong, powerful hands to shed blockers. He's a supreme hustler and never gives up on a play."

Get a glimpse inside the Indianapolis Colts Draft Room on day one of the 2024 NFL Draft. With the 15th picks the Colts selected UCLA DE Laiatu Latu.

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