Would Marshon Lattimore be a good fit for the New York Jets?
The New York Jets have a lot to fix this offseason. They need to fix the offensive line, find themselves a tight end, and get faster on the defensive side of the ball. And there is the trauma known as quarterback, in case we had forgotten. That’s just a quick overview, but Jets fans know that they are long way away from being serious contenders. They also know that the faces on the roster are going to change. Key names will change.
Free agency will be used to cure some of the problems but not all. If a team is looking to be a consistent success, they cannot rely solely upon free agency. They also must pay a good mind to the annual war for college players known as the NFL draft. That is how they are going to truly get better and stay better.
So where do the Jets start? They have the sixth pick in the draft and have a lot of different ways they can go. Do they look at a quarterback? Maybe another edge rusher? What about a tight end?
One position they could look at is cornerback. Darrelle Revis is no longer an island on to himself. “Revis Island” allows tourists on a regular basis. How often? Enough for him to allow a passer rating of over 100 to opposing quarterbacks throwing his way. It is certain fair to say that it is time to start looking for his replacement.
With that, we take a first look at cornerback Marshon Lattimore from Ohio State.
Clearly there is not a lot of game experience there, with only 16 games to his credit while in school. He was red-shirted in 2014, suffered injuries in 2015 and was finally back to health last year. He made his one year count, being named All-Big Ten. One could still make the argument that another year of college would help.
STRENGTHS Uber-athlete. Parks under receiver’s chin at line of scrimmage. Uses disruptive inside hand to slow the release and can punch out of his pedal. Patient from his press, utilizing well-timed opening to match the receiver. Plays with explosive hip flip that jump-starts him into top speed when forced to turn and run. Has balance and footwork to remain in phase with target throughout the route.
WEAKNESSES Only one year of starting experience. Wasn’t tested by high-end receiving talent very often. Will be much tougher to consistently slow NFL receivers with jam and might have to learn to play some off coverage.
The best test is our eyes, so as Warner Wolf used to say, let’s go to the video tape of his performance early in the season against Oklahoma and then in the Fiesta Bowl vs eventual National Champion Clemson, via Draft Breakdown:
Lattimore is fast. He will put up an impressive number in the 40-yard dash. On the interception during the Oklahoma game—the one deep down the sidelines—he simply outran his opponent. He didn’t really use his hands to gain in advantage, he simply ran the ball down, leaving the receiver in his wake. He is a strong tackler when he gets there, and has a nose for the football. His footwork seems solid, though I would like to see more of a back pedal. He seems to turn and run as an instinct rather than backpedaling.
A couple of things bothered me at first glance. The first was his inconsistent use of his hands. On some plays, he would get his hands in there and bother the receiver in front of him. Other times, he would simply run with him. In college, he can run with these guys and make plays on the ball based on pure speed. In the pros, he will have to get physical.
Lattimore also seems to have a tough time getting off of his blocks in the run game. To become an all-around cornerback, you have to be able to release from your opponent and stick your nose in there. Lattimore has to get better at that skill.
This would be a position to consider at No. 6. If, after watching him work out at the NFL Combine and his pro day, the Jets believe they can groom him to the cornerback they need, there is enough on tape to justify the pick.