The 2023 NFL Draft gives a clear slate on the tight finish place, one thing Alabama TE Cameron Latu could look to make the most of along with his scouting report. Instantly firmly on the radar after a stellar 2021 marketing campaign, the place does Latu slot in what needs to be a a lot deeper, extra intriguing tight finish class?
Cameron Latu NFL draft profile
Latu really began his profession as an edge rusher — an excellent one at that. He was a consensus four-star recruit popping out of Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah, in 2017. As a senior at Olympus Excessive College, Latu put up 43 tackles, six sacks, and 11 tackles for loss.
Latu’s efficiency put him on the radar of a number of the prime faculties within the nation. Naturally, Alabama was within the thick of that dialog. Latu in the end selected Alabama over a bevy of different Energy 5 faculties and entered the workforce’s deep EDGE rotation as a real freshman in 2018.
As gifted as he was at EDGE, Latu barely performed on the place for Alabama. His future as an alternative lay on the opposite aspect of the ball. Latu transitioned to TE after redshirting the 2018 marketing campaign. He was a depth TE by means of 2019 and 2020, with zero catches to his identify. And because the 2022 NFL Draft cycle started, he was overshadowed by Jahleel Billingsley.
In 2021, nevertheless, when Billingsley underwhelmed, Latu answered the decision and emerged as a real risk at tight finish. He caught 26 passes for 410 yards in a breakout season and broke the single-season file for touchdowns by an Alabama TE with eight.
Coming into the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, Latu is now the highest canine in Alabama’s TE room. Having reached unanticipated heights in 2021, he now seems to take one other step up.
- Place: Tight Finish
- College: Alabama
- Present Yr: Redshirt Senior
- Peak/Weight: 6’5″, 244 kilos
Cameron Latu scouting report
At instances, the expectations positioned on Billingsley forward of the 2021 marketing campaign blotted out the success that Latu had in his place. Trying again, nevertheless, it’s time to present Latu the respect he deserves and consider his viability as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect.
Athletically, Latu has really uncommon capacity for a good finish. He’s a supremely explosive athlete who accelerates extremely shortly when triggering on performs or blocks. He can immediately gear up off the road and stress defenders heading as much as stems. Past his linear explosiveness, he additionally exhibits off the flexibility to seamlessly make use of curvilinear acceleration on rounded breaks to keep up velocity by means of course modifications. Latu can quickly explode out of breaks, and he sustains curvilinear acceleration with effectivity.
Not solely is Latu a pure athlete, however he’s additionally a pure receiving risk. The Alabama TE could make changes past his body with little response time, utilizing the diamond hand approach to safe passes. He additionally tracks the ball pretty nicely within the warmth of the second and might corral excessive passes with ease. Moreover, Latu has easy physique management when the ball comes his means in congested conditions.
Latu snares the ball with robust palms as soon as it enters his attain, and he’s a constant hands-catcher who actively seeks out the ball. The Alabama TE can safe passes over the center of the sphere, even when threatened with rapid contact. There are lapses at instances, however total, Latu is a tricky cross catcher who can maintain his personal in touch conditions.
Increasing on Latu’s strengths, the Alabama TE additionally brings nice promise as a route runner — promise which stems from his athletic presents. Latu exhibits off a level of lateral suddenness at stems and might use that amped-up power to generate displacement. He’s an excitingly twitchy athlete for his dimension who can cease with uncommon suddenness at stems, halting his momentum immediately after accelerating.
Latu is a versatile, high-energy prospect who can stack fast course modifications to govern leverage at stems. However past that, he additionally has unfastened hips very pure hip sink, and might maintain acceleration successfully by means of transitions. He’s a easy lateral mover who can stack cuts to get defenders off-balance and open area at stems. Latu’s thrilling mixture of quickness and throttle management helps him immensely on this part, in addition to others.
Increasing on his route working, Latu has spectacular stopping capacity and pure hip sink. He can shortly halt his momentum and dip his hips on breaks, pinching tight angles. Going additional, he typically actively presses upfield at stems and might create additional cushion by feigning vertical routes. Latu makes use of his head to feign intent and doesn’t tip off defenders by flipping round too early. At stems, he can scrape away defenders with brisk arm swipes, utilizing focused bouts of physicality to compound separation.
Additionally spectacular is Latu’s understanding of leverage as a route runner. He can use assault angles to get DBs off-center at stems, then break inside. He is aware of how you can leverage defenders to create area for himself. Furthermore, Latu employs environment friendly footwork at stems. He can plant and drive with spectacular suddenness and burst. And on the line, he can use fast jab steps to realize displacement and capitalize along with his explosive capability. He additionally has the notice to movement into open zones after executing his break.
Latu remains to be enhancing as a blocker, however he already gives good utility there as nicely. The Alabama TE is an pressing, combative blocker with an uber-physical mentality. He carries burst into contact, which he can use to generate pressure. He additionally has energetic toes and palms in cross safety. Latu can sq. up rushers and latch in-phase, goal opposing strikes, and swiftly reset his palms to drive defenders again.
Latu can take up and redirect blocks along with his body and change-of-direction capacity. Moreover, he can use his corrective twitch to regulate his positioning when wanted. Whereas he doesn’t have elite power, Latu can rip down blockers with stunning upper-body torque and aggression. And very similar to his route working, he understands leverage as a lead blocker. He can use his explosiveness to get round formations and attain correct angles earlier than participating.
Amongst different issues, Latu seems to have good lengthy velocity. The Alabama TE gears up shortly and might carry his velocity in area with lengthy strides. He has the flexibility to line up in-line, at H-back, within the slot, or on the boundary. And in area, he can step by means of arm tackles with modest proficiency.
Latu’s areas for enchancment
Latu has a powerful, lean body, however is a bit underweight. He additionally has below-average size, in addition to a middling wingspan. That middling wingspan naturally limits his catch radius. Whereas he’s not a legal responsibility there, it could possibly impression him in opposition to longer, stronger defenders.
Going additional, Latu can have higher sideline consciousness at instances. He sometimes lets his toes loom out of bounds on boundary makes an attempt. He’ll additionally sometimes bobble cross makes an attempt along with his palms, and he can enhance his hand/eye coordination and ball monitoring.
As a route runner, Latu sometimes has his pads too excessive main as much as stems, which might restrict his misleading capability. He can be extra constant in channeling his explosiveness out of breaks. Furthermore, Latu takes too many steps when decelerating at instances.
As a blocker, Latu’s lighter body will be simpler to direct. His palms will be too vast, which impacts his capacity to manage blocks, and permits defenders to get inside his torso. He lacks quantifiably elite play power and might’t at all times maintain blocks or positioning. In area, he typically overshoots angles as a pulling blocker, and he can take higher angles when stacking blocks to the second degree.
Present draft projection for Alabama TE Cameron Latu
Final summer time, it was Billingsley who was penciled in as the following early-round Alabama TE. We had the appropriate college and the appropriate place, however we didn’t have the appropriate participant. In Billingsley’s place, Latu emerged as a worthy early-round TE prospect. He has early-to-mid Day 2 potential and may very well be one of many first TEs off the board within the 2023 NFL Draft.
It’s necessary to not helmet scout. And that may be a simple factor to do for Alabama prospects. However watching Latu on tape, it’s clear that, diagnostically, he’s worthy of being within the early-round dialog. Latu is already a reasonably pure receiving risk and a venerable blocker. His former EDGE background exhibits up in all the appropriate methods. He’s explosive, agile, and he additionally has the uncommon capacity to make use of curvilinear acceleration at breaks.
Latu might want to preserve getting stronger, and he doesn’t have the longest body. He additionally has room to maintain refining his ability set as a cross catcher. These could also be deflating elements in his final ceiling computation. However Latu isn’t a legal responsibility in any of these areas, and his high-level athleticism interprets each earlier than and after the catch. And his steely toughness permeates into all sides of his recreation.
Along with his multi-phase enchantment, Latu can lock himself into the Day 2 dialog, supplied he has one other good 12 months. And he has the traits to have a productive NFL profession, both by rising into a real TE1 function or serving as an excellent TE2.