NFL Draft: How edge rusher Laiatu Latu fits with the Colts’ defense

With literally all of the top defenders in this year’s draft class still on the board when the Colts were picking, they chose UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu, who will immediately bolster their pass rush.

Although the Colts finished the 2023 season ranked fifth in total sacks, they also ranked 22nd in pressure rate and 23rd in total pressures. If the Colts hope to repeat that level of sack production in 2024 – and of course they do – they’ll have to get after the quarterback more consistently.

What last year’s numbers tell us is that they were turning pressures into sacks at a very high rate, ranking in the top 10 in that category. From a repeatability and sustainability standpoint, that’s statistically not something they can duplicate in 2024.

Latu will become an immediate impact member of this rotation. He was considered by many to be the top edge rusher in this class. Over the last two seasons, he has been one of the most disruptive pass rushers in football.

In 2023 specifically, Latu posted 62 pressures, which was tied for the fifth-most among edge rushers. He also ranked first in PFF’s pass-rush grade and first in pass-rush win rate. Latu would rank 12th in run defense grade as well.

From a long-term perspective, as we look ahead to 2025, both Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo are both set to be free agents. The Colts still have the opportunity to pick up Paye’s fifth-year option for 2025.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire