CARDINALS CORNER

Report: Arizona Cardinals hosting UCLA pass rusher Laiatu Latu for top 30 visit

Apr 9, 2024, 11:05 AM | Updated: 11:11 am

Laiatu Latu looks on during a UCLA game...

Laiatu Latu #15 of the UCLA Bruins at Rose Bowl Stadium on November 11, 2023 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals are reportedly hosting UCLA pass rusher Laiatu Latu for a top 30 visit on Wednesday, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport added the edge rusher recently met with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos and is visiting the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday.

Latu ended his college career on a high note, leading the Pac-12 with 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss. He also had two forced fumbles, two interceptions and two passes defensed in 12 games played.

It was a big accomplishment for the pass rusher, who medically retired from the game in 2020 due to a neck injury suffered as a Washington Husky before being cleared to return to action in 2022 as a member of the Bruins.

He followed his last year at UCLA with a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, 32-inch vertical and 9-foot, 8-inch broad jump at the NFL Draft Combine in February.

Where is Laiatu Latu projected to land in the 2024 NFL Draft?

Latu, who NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compared to Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt, is projected by many to be a late first-round pick.

In ESPN analyst Field Yates’ latest mock draft, he has the UCLA pass rusher landing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 26 overall. That’s just one spot higher than the Cardinals’ second first-round pick at No. 27.

“Latu — my No. 16 prospect — is the most refined pass-rusher in the class, showing off masterful hand usage and understanding of how to set up opposing offensive linemen on tape,” Yates said. “A neck injury early in his college career forced Latu into medical retirement … though he eventually received clearance after a transfer to UCLA. It’s a significant part of the calculation in drafting him and why he might not hear his name called earlier, but his 23.5 sacks over the past two seasons speak to his talent.”

Among the multiple needs the Cardinals currently have, adding a legit pass rusher is right up there at the top along with wide receiver and cornerback.

Given how the roster looks Tuesday, Dennis Gardeck and BJ Ojulari figure to be two of the main fixtures at pass rusher for Arizona in 2024.

Gardeck is coming off six sacks, while Ojulari chipped in four as a rookie.

Victor Dimukeje is another name that could find himself in the rotation of edge rushers after four sacks.

And don’t forget about Zaven Collins, who made the move from MIKE backer to full-time pass rusher in Year 1 under head coach Jonathan Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis. Despite finishing with just 3.5 sacks, Arizona’s coaching staff spoke highly of the work Collins put in making the transition.

Speaking of Collins, Arizona must make a decision next month on whether or not to pick up the 2021 first-round pick’s fifth-year option.

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Report: Arizona Cardinals hosting UCLA pass rusher Laiatu Latu for top 30 visit