UCLA Football: Laiatu Latu At NFL Combine, Teams Not Concerned About Neck Injury History

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Former UCLA Football edge rusher, Laiatu Latu, said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine that “no teams have talked about any kind of concern” about his neck injury history. This after being ‘medically retired’ in 2020 due to his injury.

Latu is seen as one of the best technical pass rushers in the 2024 draft and a certain first-rounder, but one of his few red flags heading into the draft was whether or not this would affect his availability and durability going forward.

Some reassurance could be coming from Dr. Robert Watkins, who has operated on NFL players with similar injuries. Latu said of Watkins, “[Watkins] just looked at my scans and cleared me. Because he’s had guys with the same, similar stuff, like Danielle Hunter and Peyton Manning, and he really just told me I would be able to play football.”

NCAA Football: Arizona State at UCLA
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Laiatu Latu Slated To Go In 1st Round

Latu’s mock draft consensus has him going off the board in the top 15 draft picks. His highest projection has him going at pick-eight to the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are not only in need of a pass rusher, but Latu has ties with the new Falcons defensive coordinator, Jimmy Lake. Lake was the defensive coordinator of the Washington Huskies when Latu was recruited, then his head coach in 2020.

In 2023 Latu piled up 49 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, and two interceptions. His performance earned him first-team All-Pac-12 honors and the College Football Comeback Player of the Year award. He also won the 2023 Lombardi Award and Ted Hendricks Award. He is the first UCLA football player to win those awards.

Latu Competing in All Events at the Combine

Latu also said he plans to participate in all events at the combine to show off the ceiling of his athleticism. He would like to have a 40 time under 4.7 seconds. Defensive linemen and linebackers will start Combine events at 12 pm PST on Thurs. February 29th.

NCAA Football: UCLA at San Diego State
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