The 2017 NFL Draft will be a continuation of a new trend. Cover cornerbacks are just as important as quarterbacks.
All we hear is that the NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and that’s true. However, if it’s a quarterback-driven league, then you must stop them. In the 2017 NFL Draft, cornerback Marshon Lattimore is one of the best to come out of college right into the pro scene.
That’s where the cover cornerback comes in. It’s much tougher to combat a man-to-man defense in the NFL than zone because teams must rely on wide receivers to consistently beat the coverage, and we know that’s not likely.
Lattimore is cover corner is every sense. Even though he had some injury issues early on, he became a force in his one season at Ohio State. So much so that he’s moving up draft boards.
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In his first fully healthy season, he earned All-Big Ten honors, and he had four interceptions and nine passes defended.
Lattimore is one of the most athletic corners in this year’s draft class. He will get underneath the receiver in press-man and shadow him down the field.
When he has to turn and run, he can generate hip thrust to get into his top speed. No matter what the route, he uses his balance and footwork to stay with the receiver.
He was targeted 35 times, and he had 14 passes defended and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown). Lattimore can play any coverage, and he’s hard to stop. He makes sure to get to the football on screens and run plays. He keeps his head up when tackling and wraps up the ball carrier.
Even though it was a productive season, he only played one season at Ohio State. In 2016, he wasn’t tested by the top echelon receivers in the country.
One of his best traits is jamming at the line of scrimmage. The problem with that is that it can’t be done consistently at the next level, and he will have to learn how to play off man.
He reads the receiver’s eyes to time the football rather than tracking it in the air. He also had recovery issues against speedy wide receivers.
DRAFT DAY PREDICTION
He’s an average sized corner with a full complement of tools to play the position. He will be a true shutdown corner in the NFL. You will see his lack of experience show early, but don’t allow his early failures to cloud your judgment. He will make his fair share of Pro Bowls. With all of his talent, albeit somewhat raw, he is an early first round selection.