UCLA football mock draft: Where will Laiatu Latu and other Bruins land in 2024?

UCLA has three players heading to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week, and could drastically impact where they are drafted in April.
UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu (15)
UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu (15) / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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The NFL Scouting Combine has waned in its importance over the years. Now, with NFL teams using GPS tracking data and next-gen stats, they know how fast a player is well before he runs or works out in Indianapolis. Couple that with overprotective agents and you get a once-exciting spectacle that serves more as a boy's trip for the fraternity of NFL coaches and general managers. 

However, that change has distilled the combine down to its original purpose, medicals. That’s truly what the NFL is after, and not just height, weight, and wingspan. For players like Laiatu Latu, who temporarily retired from football due to a neck injury, a clean bill of health is worth a whole lot more than any 40-yard dash or bench press. 

For Latu, this week in Indy will determine whether he’ll be a surefire first-round pick in the conversation for the top 10, or if he drops to the 20s or even Day 2 and is off half of the league’s draft boards altogether. 

Latu will be joined in Indy by his teammates Gabriel Murphy and Darius Muasau. So, let’s get into where all three will be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. 

Latu. . 1st round. . player. 54. Laiatu Latu. 22. EDGE. Laiatu Latu

The Philadelphia Eagles and general manager Howie Roseman love to go after premium positions early in the draft and thrive on distressed assets. Latu fits both descriptions perfectly and the Eagles would love to see him slide. 

Latu’s neck is a real concern in NFL circles and with other options at pass-rusher like Jared Verse, Dallas Turner, and Chop Robinson, along with a bevy of offensive weapons primed to go in the first round, Latu could free-fall into the 20s. Philly though, wouldn’t let a talent like Latu get away. 

Latu pairs elite hand usage and a plethora of refined pass-rush moves and counters with his size at 6-foot-5 and a relentless motor that makes him the best pass-rusher in this class. The Eagles have depth on the defensive line, so they’d be willing to take a high-upside swing at No. 22, and with Haason Reddick potentially on the trade block, snaps could be opening up on the edge.