Much has been said and written about the tight end class in the 2023 NFL Draft. There’s plenty of talent to be had even in the deep rounds for teams looking to add some young blood to the position group.
Consider the Las Vegas Raiders, who reconfigured their tight end room, as one of the teams likely to add a young prospect at the position. The Silver & Black did well to add the likes of Austin Hooper, O.J. Howard and bringing back Jesper Horsted to build up the tight end room after trading Darren Waller.
But adding a prospect like Alabama’s Cameron Latu would be a sound investment. Especially considering the Roll Tide product is expected to be had well into Day 3 of the draft. The former edge rusher/linebacker-turned-tight end can operate as an inline option or detached from the line of scrimmage — offering versatility the Josh McDaniels’ orchestrated offense can work with.
Tale of the Tape: Cameron Latu
- School: Alabama
- Position: Tight end
- Height: 6-foot-4
- Weight: 242
- 2022 Stats: 30 catches, 377 yards, 4 touchdowns
- Career Stats: 56 catches, 787 yards, 12 touchdowns
There isn’t one particular aspect of Latu’s game that stands out. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Amongst a class that features prospects that have extremes in what they do well and what they don’t, Latu is a well-rounded prospect who offers smooth pass-catching ability along with the toughness and willingness to mix it up as a blocker — both in the run game and pass protector.
Latu’s catch radius is wide and he’ll haul in passes with his hands — full extension need be — providing a solid target for quarterbacks. His junior year numbers showcased his ability as a pass catcher as he set an Alabama tight end record with eight touchdowns to go along with 410 yards on 26 catches (15.8 yards per reception average). This past season, serving more as a blocker, Latu caught 30 passes for 377 yards (12.6 average) for four touchdowns.
While he doesn’t offer game-breaking speed, Latu can vary the speed he comes in and out of breaks to gain separation and make himself available for tight ends.
As a blocker, Latu doesn’t shy away from contact and meets the assignment head-on. He engages well with audible pop and can hold his own when tasked with either pass protection or run blocking. While Latu doesn’t showcase the same frame and lower body as other tight end prospects — that would allow him to be a fierce drive blocker and take on bigger opposition — he can create time with tenacity. He can also move along the line of scrimmage well and provide pop as a crash or down blocker to help compliment the action of the play.
Combine his ability as a receiver with his blocking and he’s a very sneaky option. He’s good as an inline option, that he can sneak out and become a pass catcher as a “forgotten” option by the defense.
But there’s a reason why Latu isn’t as highly marked as his contemporaries at the position. For all his gifts and ability as a pass catcher, he’s prone to dropping very catchable balls. He isn’t the seam-busting type tight end who can dictate coverage with his speed. And he’s inconsistent at the point of attack as a blocker.
Still, he’s got the confidence and drive to be a contributor as a receiver and blocker. And projection-wise, Latu is rated as high as a fourth-rounder, but the consensus is he’s a fifth-round type talent.
Latu, who operated well under Bill O’Brien’s offense at Alabama, is likely a prospect the New England Patriots look at as O’Brien is once again in Foxboro, this time as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.