NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: UCLA edge defender Laiatu Latu

2RPKW7J UCLA defensive lineman Laiatu Latu runs a play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Coastal Carolina Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The 2024 NFL Draft is fast approaching. The PFF big board is live, mock draft season is in full swing and the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine has wrapped up.

This year’s defensive line class features a wide variety of skill sets and many potential impact players. UCLA’s Laiatu Latu and Alabama’s Dallas Turner headline the edge defender group, while Texas’ Byron Murphy II and Illinois’ Jer’Zhan Newton provide high-end talent along the interior.

Let's look at UCLA‘s Laiatu Latu, the highest-graded edge defender in the nation over the last two seasons.

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Despite suffering a neck injury in 2021 that almost ended his football career, Latu was the most productive pass-rusher in college football over the past two seasons.

His hand usage is fantastic — fast, precise and, most importantly, purposeful. He has a wide variety of pass-rush moves and counters that appear second nature to him.

He is also a versatile edge defender, having played a near-even split of left- and right-side snaps with a good mix of two- and three-point stances.

The UCLA product is just an adequate athlete with a sub-50th percentile arm length. He could also benefit from adding some density and strength to improve his anchor ability and tackling.

Click here to see Laiatu Latu's 2024 NFL Draft profile!


WAA represents the number of wins a player is worth over an average college football player and is a metric evaluators can utilize to assess performance.

It combines how well a player performed in each facet of play (using PFF grades) and how valuable each facet is to winning football games. The result is a first-of-its-kind metric that allows for cross-positional valuation and predicts future value at the player and team levels.

Latu’s Wins Above Average (WAA) since 2019.


PFF pass-rush grade is one of the most stable measures of play, as it isolates a pass-rusher’s ability to win, how quickly he wins and how well he finishes plays.

The quicker the rusher defeats the blocker, the higher his grade will be. And given the hundreds of one-on-one interactions over a given season, this grade is very stable from year to year.

PFF pass-rush grade is strong on its own, but we can also use it to gauge performance in “must pass” situations.

Pressure percentage and win percentage are also strong measures of play and are far better than just using sack totals to evaluate a pass-rusher’s performance.

PFF run-defense grade is also very stable from year to year, while run-stop percentage is a good measure of playmaking in the run game.

Latu’s percentile ranks in the most stable defensive stats since 2019.

Latu is among the best pass-rushers of the PFF College era. From 2022 to 2023, he generated 126 pressures and sacked the quarterback 27 times, both of which paced the position over that span.

On third down — when he could pin his ears back and get after the quarterback —  Latu earned a 93.0 pass-rush grade, second among qualified edge defenders.

While defending the run isn’t his strength, Latu is no slouch. NFL teams will have to be confident in his medical evaluation, but based on his film, he is a slam-dunk pick.


Though somewhat limited athletically, Latu lives in the offensive backfield due to his hand usage and pass-rush moves, which will continue at the NFL level.

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