NFL draft profile: No. 4 — Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore, the draft's best cover man if healthy

hio State CB Marshon Lattimore
6-foot, 193 pounds

Key stat: Intercepted four passes with 13 passes defended in 2016, his one year of starting at OSU.

Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore is Shutdown Corner’s best shutdown corner in the 2017 NFL draft. (AP)
Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore is Shutdown Corner’s best shutdown corner in the 2017 NFL draft. (AP)

The skinny: Decorated Ohio-bred prep prospect at Division-II powerhouse Glenville, coached by Ted Ginn Sr., and a U.S. Army All-American. Lattimore chose Ohio State and might have been poised to contribute immediately as a true freshman but required hamstring surgery. Spent 2014 as a redshirt and looked to earn a starting role as a redshirt freshman in 2015. But once more, the hamstring caused him problems and it limited him to seven of the first eight games that season in a reserve role before he was shut down for the season. Finally cracked the starting lineup in 2016 and made the most of it, earning first-team All-Big Ten mention and continuing on with one of the deepest pools of secondary talent at any program in the country.

Lattimore declared for the 2017 NFL draft following his redshirt sophomore season. Opted to compete in only select drills at the NFL scouting combine — the 40-yard dash (4.36 seconds), vertical jump (38.5 inches) and broad jump (132 inches). Lattimore will turn 21 years old a few weeks after the draft.

Best-suited destination: Evaluators believe Lattimore has enough versatility and moldable talent to project to almost any type of scheme, but he likely would be more valuable — right away anyway — as a man corner. Among the teams that could be especially interested in Lattimore’s services include the Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers.

Upside: Will be a 21-year-old rookie. Upside as a playmaker is phenomenal. Elite ball skills for a one-year starter. Transitions very quickly and has a knack for getting hand in to break up the pass. Runs routes for receivers. Fluid, athletic and instinctive. Terrific athletic explosiveness, as seen by his combine jumping numbers as well as an exceptional 40 time (and a 1.50-second 10-yard split, which ranks as elite burst). Glides on the field and has an extra gear when needed.

Gets good press off the line with the fastest hands in the draft. Handles in-breaking routes nicely. Doesn’t let receivers cross his face easily. Allowed only one TD in man coverage this season. One team charted Lattimore as having allowed 17 catches on 36 passes against him this season, with 13 passes defended. Smells blood in the water on underthrown or poorly thrown passes. Strikes like a cobra and doesn’t miss what few chances he gets. Excellent makeup speed — watch as Lattimore sees the pass, catches up to the Oklahoma receiver and steps in front of him for the textbook INT:

Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore rarely gets burned because of his makeup speed. (Draftbreakdown.com)
Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore rarely gets burned because of his makeup speed. (Draftbreakdown.com)

Very clean tackler. Has aggressive mentality when taking down ballcarriers. Not afraid to mix it up with receivers.

Downside: Injuries a concern. Chronic hamstring issues plagued him at OSU, forced him to redshirt as a freshman following surgery to repair problem that dated back to high school. Forced to skip testing at combine because of left shoulder and hip flexor. Has required extra care (changes in diet, exercise regimen, practice routine, etc.) to manage hamstring and might need to require extra attention from NFL team’s medical staff to keep healthy. Narrow, lean frame with slightly below-average arm length. And he’s in the bottom 30th percentile at his position for hand size (8 7/8 inches). Might need a little more upper body work to handle press against big, physical receivers.

Occasionally let speedy receivers slip behind him. Might need quality safety help early on in his career. Wasn’t routinely challenged in his one year of starting — faced fewer than three passes thrown at him per game. Hasn’t developed and honed his zone technique fully yet. More of a follow-the-receiver cover man (although he has shown the ability to look through his man to the quarterback). Looked a little lax in off-man coverage some snaps. Consistency of technique is something his DB coach might have to stress early in Lattimore’s career. Has typically played the boundary and might not be ready for NFL nickel duty inside right away. Played predominantly on the right side in college.

Scouting hot take: “I’ve struggled with a few of the one-year [starters]. Not him though. Very clean sheet. A few things here or there, but nothing glaring that makes you think he can’t be very, very good. I am a tough grader, but I liked it. Even with the small sample size. He’s better than [New York Giants 2016 first-round pick Eli] Apple.” — NFC assistant general manager

Player comp: One scout we respect compared Lattimore to A.J. Bouye, who just cashed in with a major free-agency deal. “Only more explosive an athlete,” he said. Another we spoke with compared Lattimore to Janoris Jenkins for his aggressiveness and confidence.

Expected draft range: Top-10 pick

Previous profiles

Nos. 51-100: Here’s who just missed the cut
No. 50: Indiana OG-C Dan Feeney
No. 49: Iowa DB Desmond King
No. 48: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
No. 47: Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt
No. 46. Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams
No. 45. Washington CB Sidney Jones
No. 44. Alabama LB Ryan Anderson
No. 43. Ohio State WR-RB Curtis Samuel
No. 42. Florida DT Caleb Brantley
No. 41. Connecticut DB Obi Melifonwu
No. 40. USC CB-KR Adoree’ Jackson
No. 39. Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
No. 38. Michigan State DL Malik McDowell
No. 37: Ole Miss TE Evan Engram
No. 36: Florida LB Jarrad Davis
No. 35: Washington S Budda Baker
No. 34: Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon
No. 33: Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
No. 32: Florida CB Quincy Wilson
No. 31: Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara
No. 30: Michigan DB-RS Jabrill Peppers
No. 29: Alabama OT Cam Robinson
No. 28: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer
No. 27: LSU CB Tre’Davious White
No. 26: Missouri DE Charles Harris
No. 25: UCLA pass rusher Takkarist McKinley
No. 24: Michigan DE Taco Charlton
No. 23: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
No. 22: Utah OT Garett Bolles
No. 21: Western Kentucky OG-C Forrest Lamp
No. 20: Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
No. 19: Miami (Fla.) TE David Njoku
No. 18: Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
No. 17: Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
No. 16: North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky
No. 15: Washington WR John Ross
No. 14: Clemson WR Mike Williams
No. 13: Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
No. 12: Temple LB Haason Reddick
No. 11: Ohio State CB Gareon Conley
No. 10: Alabama TE O.J. Howard
No. 9: Stanford RB-WR-RS Christian McCaffrey
No. 8: Alabama LB Reuben Foster
No. 7: Ohio State S Malik Hooker
No. 6: Alabama DL Jonathan Allen
No. 5: LSU S Jamal Adams

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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