With the No. 11 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
The selection appears to be a huge coup for the Saints as most analysts considered Lattimore the top cornerback in this year’s class. The selection of seven offensive players in the first 10 picks resulted in some of the best defensive prospects sliding to down the draft board.
The 6-foot, 193-pound Lattimore had 41 tackles and four interceptions for the Buckeyes in 2016. After flirting with the possibility of trading for New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler this offseason, the Saints instead found a prospect they hope can be a long-term solution at a position they have long struggled to fill. Lattimore doesn’t turn 21 until May.
With the No. 11 pick, the Saints had their pick of a few top-tier defensive prospects. Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, Ohio State Malik Hooker, Temple edge rusher Haason Reddick and Tennessee edge rusher Derek Barnett were still available, but the Saints instead decided to take Lattimore as they look to improve their coverage.
Before the draft, Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said he wanted to add players who affect the quarterback, be it a pass rusher or a cover man. With pick No. 11, New Orleans found a player who fits one of those descriptions, and perhaps they’ll add the other one with the No. 32 pick.
Saints scouts clearly like what they’ve seen in recent years in Columbus, Ohio. Last year, New Orleans selected two former Buckeyes, wide receiver Michael Thomas and safety Vonn Bell, in the second round. The Saints also have former Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn and tight end Jake Stoneburner on the roster.
The biggest question about Lattimore during the draft process was the health of his hamstring, but the Saints must feel comfortable about his injury history to use the No. 11 pick on him.