Laiatu Latu severely disrespected in recent rookie projections

This number is ... a little low.
Indianapolis Colts OTA Offseason Workout
Indianapolis Colts OTA Offseason Workout / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

When the Indianapolis Colts selected pass rusher Laitu Latu in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, they viewed him as filling a big need.

It's not that the Colts had a hard time rushing the passer, but more that the roster needed one top-tier guy at the position. Latu can be exactly that, as many viewed him to be the best overall pass rusher in his class. The Colts finished last year fifth in the league in sacks (51), despite not having a cornerstone pass rusher on that defense. Now, they have added someone who can be a premier pass rusher

Recently, ESPN's Mike Clay posted his 2024 season projections for all 32 teams, and when looking over the Colts' numbers, it doesn't seem Clay has a ton of faith in Latu, at least in Year 1.

In his projections, Clay has Latu statted out for only 5.5 sacks as a rookie. That's not a horrific number by any means, but for the best pass rusher in his class? It seems a little low.

What are some realistic expectations for Laiatu Latu in his rookie season?

If you look at some of the better rookie seasons put up by pass rushers in league history, you'll find guys like Von Miller, Jevon Kearse, Reggie White and Dwight Freeney all producing at least 11.5 sacks in their first year.

Now, that's not to say Latu is going to have a rookie season on par with any of those four (although it would be a fantastic outcome). However, projecting just 5.5 sacks for a first-round pass rusher that looks to be the most dangerous of his class?

That's silly.

If we're being a bit more realistic, I think it's not too much to predict somewhere between 7.0 and 9.0 sacks for Latu's rookie campaign. Not even dipping into double digits feels odd, but let's temper our expectations just a little bit, here.

5.5 is a low number, but let's hope and assume Latu can do a tad better. With the way Indy is well-rounded at the position, Latu could find himself with plenty of opportunities as he's surrounded by a good amount of second-tier rushers.