Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore is projected to go early in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and could very well be the first corner off the board.
UPDATE: The Saints drafted Lattimore with the No. 11 pick.
Lattimore has many traits that NFL scouts drool over, and he showed them off as he became one of the key pieces in Ohio State’s incredible secondary this past season.
Marshon Lattimore in the 2017 NFL Draft
1. He made the most of his one year as a starter
Lattimore redshirted in 2014 and was a backup in 2015, but exploded onto the scene after winning the starting job opposite Gareon Conley this past season. The redshirt sophomore accumulated nine passes broken up and four interceptions in his breakout 2016 campaign, and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches.
His coverage skills were fantastic, as he matched opposite wideouts stride for stride and showed the ability to cover multiple routes effectively. Per Pro Football Focus, Lattimore allowed just two catches on 12 streak-route attempts. He allowed a 30.2 NFL passer rating on throws into his coverage, including a minuscule 2.8 rating on slants.
Lattimore’s makeup speed and ball skills also shined, like here against Oklahoma.
Subtle little jersey pull, but the extra little burst by Marshon Lattimore on this INT was ? pic.twitter.com/lVGRxvDsk7
— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) February 14, 2017
2. He’s a physical corner
Despite a narrow 6-foot, 193-pound frame, Lattimore is able to jam bigger wideouts at the line of scrimmage. Quarterbacks did not fare so well targeting Lattimore in press coverage, completing just six of his 23 throws for 85 yards, including one touchdown and three interceptions, per PFF. So basically, a mere 3.7 yards per attempt.
Even more impressively, his physical coverage resulted in being flagged just twice all season. He’s also a great tackler for a corner. Per PFF, he missed ZERO of the 37 solo tackles he attempted this past season.
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) February 22, 2017
The combination of Lattimore’s incredible athletic ability and physicality is a big reason why he’s viewed by many as the top cornerback in this year’s class and a potential shutdown cover man.
3. He has major durability concerns
Besides just having only a season’s worth of starts, Lattimore’s injury history is the other red flag among teams. He dealt with constant hamstring issues throughout high school and Ohio State, including undergoing surgery which forced him to redshirt his freshman year. His hamstring flared up again in 2015, causing him to miss the end of the season after playing in seven of the Buckeyes’ first eight games.
After an injury-free campaign in 2016, Lattimore pulled up running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, creating more concerns about his inability to stay healthy. He later clarified his latest ailment as a tight hip flexor, and it caused him to skip further testing at the combine.
4. He’s part of a rich Glenville HS tradition
Lattimore followed in the footsteps of Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and Cardale Jones, transitioning from Glenville to Ohio State. He was coached by Ted Ginn Sr. at the Ohio high school, and is the latest success story to come out from the powerhouse.
Ted Ginn Jr. was Glenville’s last first-round draft selection back in 2007 by the Dolphins at the No. 9 spot. Lattimore, however, should end the high school’s decade-long first-round drought on Thursday.
5. He comes from a football family
Marshon’s father, Marland, was a quarterback at Lincoln West High School. Marland was the last Lincoln signal caller to win against Glenville. Marland’s college career never got off the ground though, as a knee injury he suffered in high school ended his football dreams.
Marshon’s mother, Felicia Killebrew, also has brothers who played on the gridiron. But make no mistake, Marshon is the crown jewel of this athletic bloodline.