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SKOL Search – Draft Profile of UCLA Edge Laiatu Latu

The latest episode of The Real Forno Show, hosted by Tyler Forness, explores the draft profile of UCLA edge player, Laiatu Latu. Tyler provides a comprehensive analysis of Latu’s skills, potential, and the questions and intrigue surrounding his previous retirement due to a neck injury. The discussion made for a riveting conversation about this promising player’s NFL potential.

Laiatu Latu’s Draft Profile: The Beginning
The episode begins with Tyler pondering if Laiatu Latu could be the next great Minnesota Vikings pass rusher. With edge rusher being an incredibly popular pick, Latu has emerged as the most well-liked draft selection for the Vikings in the first five weeks of the mock draft season. This speculation sparks the detailed discussion about Latu’s strengths, potential weaknesses, and the unknowns surrounding his past.

Background
Laiatu Latu

UCLA
Transfer from Washington
Height-6’5”
Weight-265 lbs
Fifth-year senior
4-Star recruit per 247 Sports
Stats: 100 tackles, 61 solo, 235.5 tackles for loss, 24.0 sacks, 4 passes defended, 5 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 2 interceptions
Games watched: Coastal Carolina 2023, Arizona 2023, USC 2023

Breaking Down Latu’s Strengths: A Technical Masterclass
Tyler delves into what makes Latu an enticing prospect for the Vikings and other NFL teams. Unlike many other edge rushers entering the NFL draft, Latu stands out due to his extensive array of pass-rush techniques. While most edge rushers rely on one or two defined pass-rush moves, Latu impressively wields between six to eight different techniques. This array of techniques is a testament to Latu’s understanding of the game, which Tyler argues is just as important as raw athleticism.

The Power of Technique Over Pure Athleticism: A New Perspective
The discussion takes an interesting turn as Tyler examines the importance of technique in contrast to raw athleticism. While acknowledging the undeniable value of athletic prowess, Tyler argues that technical proficiency can be equally, if not more, crucial in the long run. For instance, Latu might not be classified as a hyper-athlete, but his deep understanding and execution of various techniques make him a compelling prospect. This argument provides a fresh perspective on player evaluation, shedding light on the importance of mental attributes over physical ones.

The Potential Drawbacks: Quickness and Bend
Despite his impressive technical skills, Latu is not without limitations. Tyler points out that Latu’s quickness is mostly confined to short spaces. In the open field, he doesn’t move with the same fluidity or speed. This potential drawback could limit his effectiveness on the field. Additionally, while Latu can get around the bend effectively due to his quickness and hand usage, he lacks the ability to get horizontal. This limitation could potentially hinder his impact as an edge rusher in the NFL, as it reduces the variety of angles he can attack from.

The Medical Enigma: A Cloud of Uncertainty
One of the most thought-provoking aspects of Latu’s profile is his past medical issues. Tyler discusses how Latu had previously medically retired from the University of Washington football program due to a neck injury, which could potentially influence his draft possibilities. He eventually went onto transfer to UCLA and played two injury-free seasons. The extent of this impact on his NFL future remains unclear, adding a sense of mystery to his draft narrative. This uncertainty underscores the importance of medical evaluations in the draft process and how they can drastically alter a player’s prospects.

Tyler’s Grades
Bend – 7.8/10
Quickness/Burst – 14.1/15
Finesse – 4.7/5
Power – 4.9/5
Counters – 8.1/10
Awareness – 8.3/10
Run Defense – 8.5/10
Versatility – 8.1/10
Size/Length – 14.3/15
Tackling – 8.2/10
Grade – 87.0/100 First Round

The Final Verdict: A Promising Prospect
Despite the medical uncertainties, Tyler concludes that if we judge solely based on his on-field performance and technique, Latu is a valuable player. He currently ranks Latu as his second-best edge rusher and places him eighth on his big board at the time of recording. However, Tyler also anticipates that Latu’s ranking might drop slightly as he continues to evaluate other players.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Laiatu Latu
As the episode concludes, Tyler and his co-host Dave express excitement for their upcoming live mock draft. They promise to continue monitoring Latu’s journey and will provide updates on his draft prospects as they become available. Despite the unknowns surrounding his medical status, Latu’s impressive skills and technical proficiency make him a promising prospect for the upcoming NFL draft.

The in-depth analysis of Laiatu Latu in this episode of The Real Forno Show offers a fascinating glimpse into the complex process of NFL player scouting and the many factors that can influence a player’s draft prospects.

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FAN WITH US!!!
Tyler Forness @TheRealForno of Vikings 1st & SKOL @Vikings1stSKOL and the Vikings Wire @TheVikingsWire and Dave Stefano @Luft_Krigare producing this Vikings 1st & SKOL production, on the @RealFornoShow. Podcasts partnered with Fans First Sports Network @FansFirstSN and Fans First Sports Network’s NFL feed @FFSN_NFL.

 

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