There are so many defensive back options in the 2017 NFL Draft. A lot of talent to be had in the first round, and if the 49ers are sold on one they will have their pick of them with the second overall pick…or at another selection if they decide (try) to trade down. I am projecting that more defensive backs (corners and safeties) will be selected in the first round than any other position, though defensive ends may give these positions a run for their money.
Recently, big news out of Santa Clara is that the 49ers cut cornerback Tramaine Brock after news surfaced that he was arrested for alleged domestic violence. I believe John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan made the right decision, and sent a strong message to the rest of the team and organization. What’s done is done, and now there is a hole to fill at the cornerback position. Luckily for the 49ers this draft class offers many intriguing options to consider. One of these options is from Ohio State.
Marshon Lattimore is currently considered a lock to be selected in the top ten in the draft. However, how high is too high to select a cornerback? That seems to be a big question being debated by 49ers fans in regard to Lattimore and the 2nd overall pick. For now, let’s discuss why the 49ers should consider Lattimore with the first pick…whether it be at number two overall or a trade down.
Lattimore had a productive and successful career with the Buckeyes of Ohio State. Not only did he pack some serious speed, but played with intensity against the opposition, and showed true qualities of why he is being considered as a CB1 in this draft. Of all the corners I have watched on film, none run more fluidly through their hips than Lattimore. His balance and footwork make it extremely difficult for receivers to throw him off balance. On film, I noticed on multiple occasions how well Lattimore was able to cut into the receivers route and make a play on the ball. Lattimore does a proficient job in the first five yards against the receiver in one-to-one coverage.
I absolutely love his lateral movement which only made his presence even more of a factor for the quarterback and offensive coordinators to consider. His sudden burst and ability to stay stride for stride with the receiver are one of the many reasons why I believe he is truly the CB1 of this draft. If I have any concerns with Lattimore it would be his injury history. If I’m the GM and head coach I want to know if his hamstring injuries are chronic and bound to continue at the next stage in his career.
Here are Lattimore’s stats from the 2016 season: 41 Tackles, 4 Interceptions, 9 passes broken up.
School: Ohio State
Jersey Number: 2
Weight: 193 lbs.
Hands: 8 7/8”
Arm Length: 31 1/4”
40 Time: 4.36
Vertical Jump: 38.5”
Broad Jump: 132.0”
How the measurables translate for Cornerbacks:
Information on measurables courtesy of Draft Breakdown
Drill Target Explanation
40 yd dash 4.55 Speed over distance
10 yd split 1.60 Initial quickness
225 Bench 15 Upper body strength
Vertical Jump 36″ Explosiveness
Broad Jump 10’0″ Explosiveness
20 yd shuttle 4.00 Flexibility/burst/balance
60 yd shuttle 11.2 Endurance
3 cone drill 7.00 Agility/COD
Do Your Homework
Below is a video of highlights and game film of Marshon Lattimore in action. Opponents include: Tulsa, Rutgers, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Clemson, Penn State, and Maryland.
- Explosive and fluid runner and runs through his hips who only gets faster and gains more momentum as the play extends on.
- Plays a disruptive style of football and often cuts in and knocks receivers off their intended routes.
- Finishes and completes his tackles, and wraps his arms cleanly around his opponent, bringing them to the ground.
- Has a quick first step, that allows him to stay stride for stride with even the fastest receivers. Can offer a blend of speed whether he is defending the short, intermediate, or deep routes.
- Has the ability to be a number one cover corner for a team at the next level.
- Has strong football instincts and awareness for where the pass is heading. Has the ability to read the quarterback’s eyes.
- One of the better tacklers in open field who almost never let the opposition gain yards after the reception.
- Has the quick step that allows him to turn-and-run, and utilizes his speed through his hips to stay with the receiver.
- Proficient within the first five yards of tangling up the receiver at the line of scrimmage, and taking them out of the play without drawing a penalty.
- Chronic Hamstring injuries that had a strong presence earlier in his collegiate career and even required Lattimore to have hamstring surgery.
- While he made an impact from the moment he arrived on the Ohio State campus he still only has 1 year of experience as a starter.
- There will be some growing pains as he transitions from the speed of college to the speed of the NFL. Especially with trying to cover receivers at the line.
Since I started watching film and evaluating prospects, Marshon Lattimore might be the best cornerback that I have ever studied. It’s very hard to find flaws in his game. Based off my assessment and my cons of his play he is as close to a complete prospect as it gets at the position. My two concerns with Lattimore are his hamstring injuries and his experience of only starting for one year. I perfectly understand if teams would be scared away with his injury history, especially teams picking within the top 10 of the draft. However the pros far outweigh the cons with Lattimore and he is a prospect that I am putting into my category of payers who will be able to make an immediate day 1 impact for their team.
With the recent news of the 49ers releasing Brock I have to assume that Lynch and Shanahan will be at least taking a long, hard look at Lattimore if they haven’t already. The 49ers have some intriguing talent at the cornerback position including Rashard Robinson who showed sparks of potential in his rookie season in 2016. With so many needs, including cornerback, is Lattimore the best option for the 49ers? That will be determined at some point on April 27th. Some might not be so thrilled with taking a cornerback with the second overall selection, and I completely understand that. However, if the 49ers pull the trigger on Lattimore I would not be disappointed. I would prefer them to try and trade down and select him, and gain more picks in the process, but I think we have reached the point in this draft process that we will be happy with any trade down possibility!
Overall, Marshon Lattimore is an elite talent who will be off the board by the tenth pick in the NFL Draft. If the 49ers envision Lattimore as a member of the red and gold then they will have to use their first round selection, whether it be at number two overall or via trade down. I think the best scenario would be for the 49ers to trade down with maybe a team like Carolina at pick number 8, increase their draft capital while selecting the best cornerback in the draft.
Draft Projection: Top 10 Pick (1st Round)
What are your thoughts on Marshon Lattimore? Is he the best cornerback in the draft? Would you be comfortable taking him at number 2 overall or would you prefer the 49ers to first trade down? Please share in the comments below!