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Football: Marshon Lattimore primed and ready to be a top 10 NFL draft pick

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Former Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore addresses the media during the 2017 NFL Combine in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Credit: Ashley Nelson | Sports Director

INDIANAPOLIS — Marshon Lattimore has come a long way from Glenville High School in Cleveland. From a receiving a devastating hamstring injury that nearly ruined his chances of playing football to becoming the No. 1 ranked cornerback in the 2017 NFL Draft, Lattimore has found a way to keep his dreams of playing in the NFL alive.

His opening statement in the Indiana Convention Center on Sunday during the NFL combine reflected just that.

“It’s just a blessing to be in the position I am today,” he said. “Because, I didn’t even know if I was going to play or not. If I was going to be healthy enough to play.”

Lattimore had problems with his hamstring in both 2014 and 2015, and was kept off the field for essentially the entirety of both seasons. But, after a long rehab process and a few more gray hairs for his coaching staff watching anxiously to see if his legs would hold up in 2016, Lattimore will likely hear his name called in the top half of the first round of the NFL draft.

NFL teams erred on the side of caution with the speedy cornerback, and wasted no time getting right to the point about his pesky hamstrings. Lattimore laughed when asked about how teams addressed his previous injury, and said it was the first question asked by many.

Whether Lattimore can remain healthy remains to be seen, but the numbers he put up in 2016 paired with a clean bill of health following the end of the season should bode well for the Ohio native.

With four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and nine pass deflections, along with stellar lateral quickness and top-end speed, his designation as the draft’s best cornerback is all too obvious.

With OSU quickly becoming a haven for top secondary talent, Lattimore was around more than a few current NFL cornerbacks in his time with the Buckeyes. The most notable of those players,Lattimore said, have been New York Giant Eli Apple, Denver Bronco Bradley Roby and fellow 2017 NFL Draft prospect Gareon Conley.

“I played with Eli, so I learned a lot from him,” he said. “Learned a lot from Bradley Roby. I wasn’t there when he was there so I just talked to him. I asked him about certains things, certain techniques and they give me feedback all the time. Even with Gareon, because he started a year before I even started, so I look at all of them for help.”

The New York Jets seem like the most likely landing spot for Lattimore barring any unforeseen issues ahead of the draft. A team that is struggling to defend the pass and just released arguably its best cornerback could use the services of a cornerback with the skill level of Lattimore.

However, the Jets might be interested in Leonard Fournette, would would essentially guarantee Lattimore to drop to the eighth pick and make him a Carolina Panther.

And if he is picked in the top 10, he knows exactly who to thank.

“At Ohio State, the prepare you the best, I feel like,” Lattimore said. “We perform in college, and then we perform in the league. Me, Gareon … all eight players in the draft just trying to continue that.”

The combine concludes on Monday, and the 2017 NFL Draft kicks off on April 27 in Philadelphia.

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