When we all started our 2017 NFL Draft preparation this past Summer (maybe sooner), none of us had the name Marshon Lattimore on our watch list. As the season progressed, Lattimore was one of three defensive backs to emerge among the top at their respective position. (Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley being the others)
As it currently stands, Lattimore looks like the consensus top cornerback in a rich 2017 draft class at the position. The redshirt sophomore turned in a tremendous redshirt sophomore campaign up in Columbus. He finished the season with 41 tackles, 9 pass breakups and 4 interceptions. After earning the starting job in the Spring, Lattimore made the most of it and far exceeded expectations, leading him to enter the draft early, foregoing two extra years of eligibility.
After earning the starting CB job for the Buckeyes, he never looked back. After just one season as the starter in Columbus, he has set himself up to be a top 10 draft pick. Lattimore has tremendous cover skills, and aside from that, is a well-rounded player who does a little bit of everything else. In a rich corner class, Lattimore is the standout and looks like the consensus #1 at the position.
Name: Marshon Lattimore
School: Ohio State
Class: Sophomore (RS)
Comparison: Vontae Davis (Indianapolis Colts)
Draft Grade: Top 10
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) February 22, 2017
Positives: Elite foot quickness. Top-end recovery speed. Will leap in front of the ball when playing behind the intended target. Tremendous cover corner who defends the sideline well. Textbook in man coverage. Stays step-for-step with receiver on vertical routes. Knows how to position his body to guard the deep pass – rarely allows a catch against the long ball. Plus ball skills and can create after the catch. Smooth hip transition. Tracks the ball in the air and will throw a hand up to defend the pass. Quick turnaround and steady body control to shift off his man into pursuit. Blazing speed in pursuit. Takes good angles to the ball and can erase the ball carrier’s route to open field. Can get sideline-to-sideline to snatch up ball carriers. Plays more physical than you would think a guy of his size is capable of. Reliable tackler who can make solo stops in open field. Doesn’t shy away from getting scrappy. Reacts well on underneath passes and is a swift closer. Displays good ball recognition and won’t bite on play fakes. Provides explosive penetration off the edge on blitzes. Adjusts well to initial offensive line base set-ups when blitzing. Displays a good break on the ball.
Negatives: Tends to continue to shift back with the receiver even in the intermediate-deep range leading to too much cushion allowed and space for the receiver to work with. Angles body to guard deep pass and will allow receiver too much room on the inside. Allows receivers to work back to the ball. Lacks ideal vertical jump and won’t guard receivers effectively with a high catch point. Fails to get consistent separation from blockers in pursuit. Lingering hamstring injury may be a concern – definitely worth monitoring during combine medical evaluations.
Outlook: Lattimore is a special cornerback with rare coverage skills. He very well could be the best cover corner in this year’s draft class. A well-rounded defensive back with tremendous athleticism. Understands how to defend the sideline and is an asset at guarding the deep pass. You can leave him on an island and not have to worry about it. His ability to defend the run, play physical and serve as a disruptor on the blitz is a huge bonus. His hamstring is a minor concern to me, but he stayed healthy this season, and his talent is too great to pass up. Lattimore looks like a top 10 lock, being mocked as high as #2 to San Francisco.