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Could Rams 'Strike Gold' By Drafting Laiatu Latu? NFL Expert Offers Unique Draft Prediction

After improving their defensive line with the selections of Kobie Turner and Byron Young last offseason, the Los Angeles Rams could do it again in this year's NFL Draft.

This year's NFL Draft will mark the first time since 2016 that the Los Angeles Rams have a first-round pick. To say there is anticipation for what the Rams will do with the No. 19 overall pick would be an understatement. 

While many recent mock drafts have featured predictions of the Rams using the pick to fill holes on their roster, like along the offensive lineman or at cornerback, NFL Network's Brian Baldinger has a different suggestion.

Laiatu Latu UCLA

“Last year, the Rams struck gold in the third round (Byron Young and Kobie Turner). Both players put up good years, became starters. ..." Baldinger said. “I think you are still in the market for a defensive end. Remember, two years ago they tried to trade for Brian Burns. It never happened. Now, maybe this is a chance that they can go get themselves a pass rusher like Laiatu Latu. I just think that this could be a spot.”

An outside-of-the-box suggestion is, indeed, considering when ranking the Rams' needs this offseason, it is hard to say edge rushers would eclipse either offensive line or cornerback. However, that isn't to say that the Rams shouldn't be in the market for adding to a defensive line that includes Aaron Donald and two rising second-year players, Byron Young and Kobie Turner

Yet, the idea of the Rams landing the now-former UCLA Bruins edge rusher is intriguing. After starting his college career at Washington, Latu transferred to UCLA and broke out in a big way. 

The 6-foot-4, 265-pound edge rusher totaled 36 tackles, 12.5 for a loss, and 10.5 sacks in his first season at UCLA in 2022 after missing the entire 2021 season at Washington due to a neck injury. Then, just this past season, Latu improved his numbers, with 49 tackles, 21.5 for a loss, 13 sacks, and two interceptions. 

Combine his production with his performance at the NFL Combine, where he ran an eye-popping 4.64-second 40-yard-dash; it is easy to see why, on paper, at least, that his profile has Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt listed as Latu's pro comparison.

Considering the production the Rams just got out of Young and Turner as rookies, both third-round selections, adding a Day 1 talent in Latu would be a scary thought for opposing defenses. 

However, it is hard to imagine the Rams passing on a top cornerback or offensive lineman in order to take Latu. Although, if the Rams intend on being "aggressive" this offseason like Les Snead has hinted at recently, then maybe drafting Latu could be put into that category.