Los Angeles Rams May 'Turn Their Attention' to Laiatu Latu

The Los Angeles Rams have widely been projected to take a defensive tackle, but the class' best edge rusher may be a better fit at No. 19.
Nov 4, 2023; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig #5 dives
Nov 4, 2023; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig #5 dives / Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports
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The Los Angeles Rams may commit themselves to attempting to replace defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the NFL Draft. However, replacing his impact – to any extent – could mean an upgrade in the pass rush and not just a replacement for the Hall of Fame defensive tackle.

This class is stocked with talent both at defensive tackle and edge rusher, and there’s reason to believe the Rams won’t be dead set on either position. The team has badly needed a premier edge presence, and with Donald gone, that need is only exacerbated.

Young edge rusher Byron Young is a good player, but this defense won’t survive without an upgrade opposite him. Losing Donald means more than his All-World talent, it means having to make up for the weaknesses he masked for years.

Nov 4, 2023; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig #5 dives
Nov 4, 2023; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig #5 dives / Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

Subsequently, general manager Les Snead could prioritize an edge threat in Round 1, especially if his preferred tackle is off the board.

“One of those teams are the L.A. Rams, who hold the 19th pick of Round 1,” said Tony Pauline. “While I’ve had Byron Murphy II mocked to the Rams with that first pick, there’s a good chance the Texas defensive tackle doesn’t make it that far and the Rams turn their attention to Latu.”

UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu, the prospect he’s referring to, has an argument to be the best pure pass rusher in this class. His medical history and potential scheme fits may have Alabama’s Dallas Turner drafted earlier, but current speculation suggests his one-time medical retirement isn’t scaring teams off.

Simply put, Latu would be a home run for Los Angeles.

The Rams need a Day 1 contributor on the edge who demands attention and has both the strength and athleticism to impose his will on tackles. His pass-rush win rate is up there with former top-three selections Nick and Joey Bosa as prospects and if it weren’t for the medicals dampening his stock, he may have been considered a similar-level of prospect.

There’s work to be done against the run, especially against bigger lineman, but there’s little clouding his projection as a pass rusher.

Los Angeles can’t replace Donald with a single draft pick or big signing. But an edge rusher who can draw attention away from Young and defensive tackle Kobie Turner is a good start at mitigating his departure and redefining how the team creates pressure.


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Anthony Licciardi

ANTHONY LICCIARDI