Pros and cons of 49ers picking Alabama football's Cam Latu in 2023 NFL Draft
Former Alabama tight end Cam Latu was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Friday with the 101st overall pick.
Latu (6-foot-4, 242 pounds) is a capable receiver who played extensively in the slot position for the Crimson Tide. For his career, he caught 56 passes for 787 yards and 12 touchdowns, enjoying his best season as a fourth-year junior in 2021, when he averaged 15.8 yards per catch and hauled in eight touchdowns (a school record for a tight end) during star quarterback Bryce Young's Heisman Trophy-winning campaign.
He was impressive during the Reese's Senior Bowl practice week, showing scouts reliable hands and the ability to separate from coverage.
Latu came to Alabama as a linebacker before switching positions. He's been ranked No. 233 in this draft class by Pro Football Focus.
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Latu is a solid pass-catcher who can get open against linebackers and safeties whether lined up in the slot or beside the tackle. NFL scouts believe he can be a solid special-teams contributor in the pros as well, an opportunity made stronger with his background on defense.
Although he lined up beside the tackle quite a bit as a senior, Latu is not a traditional in-line tight end, so expectations for him as a blocker should be be tempered. He's better off blocking safeties and linebackers in space than trying to collapse on defensive ends. While reliable as a receiver, he's not especially effective after the catch.
Latu could work out well depending on his role. He'll be most effective in complementary tandem with a tight end who is bigger and more suited to run blocking at the point of attack. He doesn't have the athleticism to be a star in the pros as a slot tight end, but he can carve out a career if he's functional in that role and adds additional value on special teams.
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