COLUMBUS, Ohio — A year ago, Marshon Lattimore wasn’t sure his football career was going to continue.
After arriving at Ohio State as a highly touted prospect, Lattimore had spent his first two seasons in Columbus on the sideline due to reoccurring hamstring injuries. As he entered the 2016 season with a starting cornerback spot opposite Gareon Conley open in the Buckeyes’ starting lineup, it appeared to be now or never for the Cleveland Glenville product.
Lattimore chose now.
And after proving he could stay on the field for an entire season, Lattimore now finds himself as one of the top — if not the top — top cornerback prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft. As we did last week with Malik Hooker, let’s take a look at how Lattimore got here, and what’s ahead for the potential top-10 pick.
A 4-star prospect, Lattimore was ranked the No. 52 player in the nation and No. 1 player in the state of Ohio in the 2014 class, per 247Sports. Alongside Cleveland Glenville teammate and current Buckeyes safety Erick Smith, Lattimore committed to Ohio State at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4, 2014.
In addition to the Buckeyes, Lattimore weighed scholarship offers from Alabama and Georgia Tech during the course of his recruitment. The No. 6 cornerback in his class even took official visits to Tuscaloosa and Atlanta before landing in Columbus.
After redshirting in 2014 and seeing sporadic playing time in 2015, Lattimore emerged as one of the nation’s top cornerbacks in his redshirt sophomore season.
In 13 games, he recorded 41 tackles, broke up 9 passes and recorded 4 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. For his efforts, the 6-foot-1, 192-pound cornerback earned first team All-Big Ten honors.
What his coaches said
“When Marshon’s healthy, Marshon’s very talented … Marshon was an extraordinary receiver in high school with gifted hands.” — Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs
“He’s long, he’s fast, he’s tough, he’s disciplined, he’s competitive, he plays the ball in the air extremely well, he puts his foot in the ground and changes direction. He’s not afraid to play man-to-man and play man-to-man all day long. He will play well.” — Coombs
What NFL draft experts are saying
“Lattimore isn’t going to come in as an All-Pro, but the potential is significant.” — ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.
“The best cornerbacks rarely last long in the draft, and NFL scouts I’ve polled believe Lattimore can come in and be a shutdown player from the first day given his size and speed.” — Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller
“A first-year starter, Lattimore is more naturally gifted than former Ohio State CB Eli Apple, who went No. 10 overall to the Giants in the 2016 draft. At 6-foot, 192 pounds, Lattimore has good length and really fluid movement skills. He has taken full advantage of his spike in playing time, with 4 interceptions and 9 pass breakups this season” — ESPN’s Todd McShay
“Lattimore is a very gifted athlete for his size with sticky coverage skills” — CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler
The consensus among NFL draft prognosticators seems to be that Lattimore will be a top-10 pick this spring. Both Kiper and Miller project the Tennessee Titans to select him with the No. 5 overall pick this April, while Brugler has him going a spot later the the New York Jets in his most recent mock draft. Likewise, McShay projects Lattimore to land with the Jets.
NFL.com compares Lattimore to a fellow former Big Ten cornerback in Vontae Davis.
The 25th overall pick of the 2009 draft out of Illinois, Davis has spent eight combined seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts. He earned all pro honors in both 2014 and 2015.
At 5-11, Davis isn’t necessarily as long as Lattimore, but is similar in the sense that he’s a “freak athlete.” Ultimately, Lattimore seems to possess a higher upside than Davis, which says plenty about the former Ohio State star’s potential.