It’s nearly summer in the northern hemisphere and the 2023 NFL Draft is well into the rearview mirror. If you’re a college football fanatic or just love following the draft, the cycle only repeats itself at the end of each draft. The next big prospects are on the horizon for the 2024 NFL Draft and highlighting the stars of the sport before the 2023 season is great practice to assure yourself you’re looking for talent in the right places.
The Buffalo Bills’ college scouting staff has already begun looking for the newest talent in college and identifying the lay of the land. Research is ongoing in an effort to find out who could best fit in with the team.
Where better to start identifying NFL talent than with the Alabama Crimson Tide? The Tide have had a very decorated recent history of placing an abundance of talent in the NFL. Among the more notable positions in recent years is at offensive tackle with players such as Cam Robinson, Jedrick Wills, Evan Neal, and Jonah Williams. That’s just a few players among many within the last decade currently finding success in the NFL.
The next offensive tackle in line to be an early draft pick is JC Latham — a true junior in 2023 and 13-game starter at right tackle for the Tide in 2022. Latham is a former five-star recruit and was the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country coming out of high school. He has the size, skill set, and pedigree to be a premiere draft pick in 2024.
Let’s dig in a bit further to see what Latham brings to the table as he enters his first draft-eligible season in 2023. I watched two games of All-22 from the 2022 season — Auburn and Texas A&M.
JC Latham Scouting Report
A former five-star recruit who attended powerhouse high school program IMG Academy, Latham continued to follow a star’s path to Alabama out of high school. Latham started 13 games in 2022 as a true sophomore at right tackle and could slot in as a starter on either side as a bookend in 2023. Latham will need to continue to improve on his core strength, but he has gifts you can’t teach at the position from a physical standpoint. The jump that Latham takes with core strength in 2023 will dictate his NFL Draft ceiling.
- Fluid athlete who rarely lets SEC defenders beat him on the outside shoulder
- Works angles exceptionally well to win in run-blocking sets despite not being overly powerful
- Good grip strength; Hands appear to be big and strong to allow himself to slow down rushes directed at his median
- Easy ability to counter twists, stunts, and inside counters with fluid feet and body positioning
- Needs to work on core strength as he rarely dominates college competition one-on-one
- Anchor shows up poorly as he can be blown up at times if he gets his hands misaligned by long arms or bull-rush moves
- Head over toes and loses balance as defensive ends can sidestep him to make impactful plays in the run game
- Scheme-dependent as a zone-scheme offensive tackle at this time
Why JC Latham fits the Bills
It’s very early in the process, but Latham is absolutely a scheme fit who has already started a full season at one of the best programs in the country at the right tackle spot. Latham absolutely must improve on his strength this offseason, but he is already a natural fit in a zone scheme due to his understanding of angles. Many things can change going into the season, but Latham is one of the more naturally gifted tackles in this class from the jump. His position is an area of potential need in 2024 for the Bills if current starter Spencer Brown doesn’t improve this coming season.