Cameron Latu made a name for himself in Utah as a star linebacker and defensive end at Olympus High. He chose the University of Alabama for college, where he converted to tight end and caught passes from Bryce Young, who was taken first overall in the 2023 NFL draft.

Now, Latu’s own NFL dreams are coming true. The 6-foot-4, 242 pound tight end was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the No. 101 pick in the third round of the 2023 NFL draft.

In the NFL, Latu is expected to further develop his pass-catching and blocking skills, which were already good enough at Alabama to make him a two-year starter.

Latu averaged 14.1 yards per catch during his college career, and he logged a total of 12 touchdowns and 787 receiving yards. In 2021, he broke Irv Smith Jr.’s school record for touchdown catches in a season by a tight end.

Latu grew up playing multiple sports, including rugby, in northern Minnesota before relocating to Utah. In additional to football, he wrestled and played club rugby at Olympus High.

What NFL draft experts said about Cameron Latu

“Latu has an average size/speed profile and must improve as a blocker, but his ascending confidence and smooth pass-catching skills make him a dependable chain mover. He should compete for a backup role as an NFL rookie with eventual low-end starting potential.” Dane Brugler, The Athletic

“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.” — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

“Latu does a good job catching on the run and transitioning quickly upfield, but he’s inconsistent catching in traffic and does not show a second gear as a runner after the catch. As a blocker, he takes good angles and gets in solid position as an in-line blocker. He’s not a strong finisher in the run game and struggles to sustain if forced to hold up too long in pass protection.” — ESPN draft team

What experts said about the selection

ESPN’s Nick Wagoner believes Latu will be able to “contribute right away” and offer valuable support to 49ers star George Kittle. “In Latu, the Niners hope they finally have the player who can give Kittle the occasional breather, offer some more options in two tight end sets and, perhaps, become an eventual replacement for the do-everything Kittle,” he wrote.

Similarly, Joseph Acosta at SB Nation said Latu will provide depth, but he also noted that the wow factor may not be there.

Latu is a “solid, reliable tight end who won’t wow you in any aspect of the game but he’ll provide depth for the Niners,” he wrote.

Other draft analysts were more critical of the 49ers choice. Pro Football Focus, for example, highlighted Latu’s lack of production last season.

“Latu is coming off a season in which he produced a 60.6 PFF receiving grade, a 50.0 run-blocking grade and a low 1.03 yards per route run. He has the size that teams look for at the position, but the production just wasn’t there in 2022,” PFF said in the paragraph explaining its “below average” rating for the pick.

Previous Olympus High players who made it to the NFL

  • Phil Tuckett, wide receiver, San Diego Chargers (1968).
  • Dick Leeuwenburg, tackle, Chicago Bears (1965).
  • Merrill Douglas, running back, Chicago Bears (1958-1960), Dallas Cowboys (1961), Philadelphia Eagles (1962).