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49ers make Alabama TE Cameron Latu a 3rd-round draft pick

Apr 28, 2023 at 8:11 PM


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The San Francisco 49ers selected Alabama tight end Cameron Latu with the 38th pick (No. 101 overall) in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Latu was among several tight ends who had a pre-draft visit with the Niners in Santa Clara.

Latu registered 30 receptions for 377 yards and four touchdowns through 11 game appearances as a senior in 2022, per Sports Reference. He caught 56 passes for 787 yards with 12 touchdowns through his five collegiate seasons.

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San Francisco has long sought another tight end to pair with its tough but sometimes banged-up tight end, George Kittle. The 6-4, 242-pound Latu provides the 49ers with a player about the same size as their All-Pro star tight end.

"High-hipped pass-catching tight end with run blocking fortitude to mold," Lance Zierlein wrote within the player's NFL.com scouting report. "Latu's lean legs and angular frame aren't made for drive blocking or neutralizing bigger players, but he does a nice job of sustaining move blocks in space. He changes route speed to open throwing windows over the first two levels. There are some issues with focus drops at times, but he plucks throws with good hand extension when possible. Latu could have roster appeal as an F tight end with an average ceiling."

Latu is from Salt Lake City, UT. He earned a pre-draft grade of 6.1 from NFL.com, which equates to a "good backup with potential to become a starter," per the site's 8-point grading scale.

NFL.com projected Latu to be a fifth-round draft pick.

Keith Sanchez of The Draft Network wrote the following about Latu within his scouting report:

Cameron Latu is a redshirt senior tight end prospect who originally enrolled at the University of Alabama as a defensive end. Latu made the transition to the tight end position after his first season and has been a player who has consistently risen up the depth chart over the years, ultimately becoming the starting tight end for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Over the past two seasons, Latu has become a reliable receiving target and has worked his way up the progression order as a reliable, consistent player. Latu has ideal size for a traditional in-line tight end, but Alabama used him in multiple alignments—both in the slot and outside as a receiver.

Latu's best traits as a player are his versatility to be able to do it all and his ability to be very knowledgeable of his role and assignment on any given play. On run plays when Latu is aligned in the traditional tight end position, he does a good job giving effort to block and places effective blocks. In the passing game, Latu shows that he is a high-IQ football player. When facing zone coverages, Latu does a good job of finding the holes in a defense and making himself available for the quarterback. Latu fits the mold of the traditional "security blanket" over the middle of the field for the quarterback and his knowledge of the game helps him be on the same page as the passer.

Latu's deficiencies as a player are centered around his speed and acceleration. In the new modern era of football where tight ends are dynamic vertical threats, Latu appears to fall short of that standard athletically. Latu's best skill set is working the middle of the field on short-to-intermediate routes and he appears to lack the ability to stretch the field vertically. Latu's lack of speed and acceleration also affects his ability to separate from defenders in man-to-man coverage. It shows in that Latu can get separation on breaks and cuts but he lacks the burst and acceleration to remain separated from defenders throughout the route and defenders are able to get in phase with him

Overall, Latu's versatility is attributed to his high IQ and knowledge of the game, but his role on the next level may be limited due to speed concerns. Latu projects best to a NFL system that utilizes two tight ends and he can be the complementary piece to a tight end who profiles as more of a vertical threat.

Measurables


Height: 6' 4 3/8"
Weight: 242 lbs.
Arm length: 32 3/8 inches
Hand length: 9 1/2 inches

College Statistics
Year School Class G Rec Yds Avg TD
2018 Alabama FR 1 -- -- -- --
2019 Alabama FR 2 -- -- -- --
2020 Alabama SO -- -- -- --
2021 Alabama JR 14 26 410 15.8 8
2022 Alabama SR 11 30 377 12.6 4
Total Alabama 56 787 14.1 12
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