Why Rams won't regret not prying 10th overall pick from Jets GM Joe Douglas

Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay, Les Snead
Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay, Les Snead / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
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UCLA OLB Laiatu Latu

The connection between the LA Rams and the need to improve their defensive pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and UCLA rookie prospect edge rusher Laiatu Latu was almost instantaneous following the end of the 2023 NFL season. Latu was described by more than one draft analyst as the 'best pure pass rusher in the draft,' and new DC Chris Shula was certainly in the market for rookies with those reputations.

While Latu was considered one of the best in college football in 2023, he was not without questions and concerns. On the football field, Latu excelled at rushing the quarterback. But he did not exhibit the same level of proficiency at other responsibilities at the outside linebacker position, like setting the edge, shedding blockers, and stuffing the run.

All of those matters are coachable, and no team can expect any rookie to arrive in the NFL ready-made to plug-and-play at the position without patience, coaching, and trial and error. That same path of progress applies to Laiatu Latu as much as any other rookie.

But Latu also had an injury history that raised some uneasiness among some NFL teams. Clearly not all NFL GMs felt that way. But some did, and that was especially true of those teams that held a Top-10 pick. Curiously, the Rams did not exhibit concern or any amount of monitoring Latu's status on the draft board throughout Round 1. Clearly the team held another prospect higher on their board. So who was the team's top target?

The next slide may provide us with the answer: