Buckeyes

NFL Draft: Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore ranked No. 2 and 3

Kyle Robertson / The Columbus Dispatch

The season may not have ended the way the Ohio State Buckeyes wanted on the gridiron, but the scarlet and gray have plenty to look forward to, both for their current and former players. Head coach Urban Meyer’s crew has been known for having some of the top talent heading into the NFL over the last few years and that trend seems to have continued into 2017. Ohio State had six early entrees and in NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s latest Top 50 draft prospects, he has a pair of Buckeyes listed in his top three: No. 2 safety Malik Hooker and No. 3 cornerback Marshon Lattimore. What’s most incredible about this is that both of these players had just one season of full-time starting experience.

Last year at this time, many people, including draft scouts, may not have heard of Malik Hooker, and now he’s one of the best prospects going into the 2017 draft. Remarkable, right? While racking up 74 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and seven interceptions (school record three pick-sixes), the redshirt junior couldn’t have had a better single season in Columbus. He has been compared to former NFL great Ed Reeed by many, and if he continues to develop and have an eye for the ball like he did in his short time at Ohio State, he could be even better tHan Reed. Either way, that’s not a bad comparison, it’s just a way to somewhat measure just how good he can be at the next level.

Here’s what Jeremiah said about Hooker:

Hooker is a tall, rangy safety prospect with incredible instincts. He usually lines up as the high safety and he has an uncanny ability to anticipate throws, drive on the ball, and finish. He is ultra-fluid in his change of direction and has the ability to match up with tight ends in man coverage. He has the best ball skills of any safety I’ve ever evaluated in college. He is also a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Against the run, he is quick to key, read and fill the alley. He does have some fly-by missed tackles, but overall he’s reliable in this area. Hooker has the potential to be one of the league’s best safeties very early in his NFL career.

Like Hooker, 2016 was also the first year that Marshon Lattimore became a full-time starter for the Buckeyes. While allowing just a 30.2 quarterback rating, the redshirt sophomore totaled 41 tackles, nine pass breakups, and four interceptions (one pick-six). The Massillon, Ohio native was one of the main reasons why Ohio State had one of the best secondaries in the country after he allowed just a 15.9 quarterback rating at balls thrown his way, the second-best rating in the country.

Lattimore has average size but possesses elite foot quickness, agility, and awareness. In press coverage, he is very patient and fluid to open up and mirror underneath. He can play a variety of techniques successfully. In off coverage, he is very aware and explosive to drive on balls in front of him. He does an excellent job of locating and playing the ball down the field. He is outstanding in run support. He fights through blocks and attacks the line of scrimmage. He is a very sure tackler in space. I love the way he competes. He has all of the tools to develop into a No. 1 cornerback at the next level.

Having two members of Ohio State’s secondary ranked this high seems like a but of a reach to some, but, who can blame him when they had a college positions coach like Greg Schiano. The coach, who has plenty of experience both at the college level and in the NFL, knows how to get his players ready for the next level. Either way, the Buckeyes have proven that they can reload in the defensive secondary. Can they do it again in 2017, after having two or possibly three defensive backs get drafted in the first round?

  • mgbode

    And Conley is No. 29 on that list. All three guys could go in Round 1 (though I think he is a bit high on Hooker/Lattimore, I can certainly understand putting them both in the Top 10).

  • RGB

    And Robinson at #40?
    I’ve seen him vary on a few rankings, but none as low as #40.

  • mgbode

    He might be asserting those character red flags into that distinction along the his profile that reads like a RT – I agree w/ him on that it’s just that the Browns need a RT, so all good. Also, wary of having Ramczyk at No. 14 – he’s having hip surgery. Not sure I’d want a high Round 1 pick coming off hip surgery.

  • RGB

    I didn’t see Elflein on the list, whom I might take at #33.

  • mgbode

    Think I’d want him with our later Round 2 pick.

  • RGB

    If him or Pocic is available at #51, I’m taking one.

  • mgbode

    I like Pocic more.

  • NankirPhelge

    The NFL all-rookie team was announced today, and not a single Brown is on it.

    http://www.profootballwriters.org/2017/01/17/cowboys-elliott-pfwa-rookie-offensive-rookie-year-chargers-bosa-defensive-rookie-year-2016-rookie-team-named/

    So not only did the fabulous HBT not find a single Pro Bowler with all their picks, they couldn’t even find an all-rookie player.

    So it’s looking more and more that Year One of the Latest Rebuild was a complete waste. Doesn’t give me much confidence for Year Two.

  • RGB

    Sold!

  • Jaker

    I like his list. Makes me believe that we can get 2 stud defenders in round 1. And while I love Deshaun Watson, he does put his weaknesses into perspective.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi NP … not a complete waste. so they’re no pro-bowlers , or all-rookies , but i think C.Coleman , Ogbah , Nassib , Kessler , Drango , Kindred & Devalve all look like solid players … and even though Boddy -Calhoun was someone else’s junk , he performed admirably as a rookie & should be around for a while. many of these guys above got plenty of playing time & experience in their debut seasons … and all of these guys playing on a poor team didn’t help either.

    Falcon LB Vic Beasley was 1st round pick in 2015 & they were screaming bust after his rookie season … he led the NFL in sacks this year. and there are plenty more stories like his where guys didn’t make a huge splash their rookie years & went on to be fine players.

    can’t judge a draft after only 1 season … so, there is still hope.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi NP … not a complete waste. so they’re no pro-bowlers , or all-rookies , but i think C.Coleman , Ogbah , Nassib , Kessler , Drango , Kindred & Devalve all look like solid players … and even though Boddy -Calhoun was someone else’s junk , he performed admirably as a rookie & should be around for a while. many of these guys above got plenty of playing time & experience in their debut seasons … and all of these guys playing on a poor team didn’t help either.

    Falcon LB Vic Beasley was 1st round pick in 2015 & they were screaming bust after his rookie season … he led the NFL in sacks this year. and there are plenty more stories like his where guys didn’t make a huge splash their rookie years & went on to be fine players.

    can’t judge a draft after only 1 season … so, there is still hope.

  • Jaker

    “not find a single Pro Bowler with all their picks”

    There were 2 rookies that made the Pro Bowl; Tyreek Hill, Zeke Elliot. Both came from a top 2 seed in their conference. If you were expecting HBT to draft a rookie Pro Bowler after that trade down, ahead of a 1-15 season, in their first draft, you set an impossibly high bar. Its a No-Win scenario.

    Now in terms of the All Rookie Squad, I agree that its disappointing. We have yet to see any reasons to believe we drafted any “studs” in 2016. But Danny Shelton and Chris Kirksey both showed that they are center pieces of this defense, even though they didn’t show that when they were rookies.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i’m pretty sure Beasley is in his 2nd season … so that leaves only Elliot & Hill .

  • Jaker

    yup, edited

  • Jaker

    agreed… this isn’t a one year rebuild. while we may be discouraged by the results thus far, we must not judge them this early

  • Garry_Owen

    Well, fully half of the league (16 teams) is not represented on that list, including 2 teams playing this weekend for the Super Bowl. Also, the 49ers are represented, and there is no way that I would trade places (or front offices) with them. It’s an interesting fact that the Browns are one of those 16 teams, but it, on its own, doesn’t prove a single thing about the HBT.

  • Richard Kovacs

    Lattimore is from Cleveland Glenville High. Conley’s from Massillon, south of Cleveland. Hooker’s from New Castle, Pa, just 80 miles east of Massillon and 85 miles southeast of Cleveland. Only Damon Webb wasn’t from this region.

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