During the NFL Honors ceremony on Feb. 8, New Orleans Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore was the winner of the NFL Rookie Defensive Player of the Year Award. Lattimore was one of the most effective and dynamic defensive backs in football during the 2017 season. This comes only a year after another former Ohio State Buckeye, Joey Bosa, won the same award as a member of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Lattimore, who was extremely impressive for New Orleans this season helping to solidify their defense in route to a 11-5 season before losing to Minnesota in the divisional round. Lattimore had 43 tackles, 18 pass deflections, and five interceptions, one which was returned for a touchdown this past year. Lattimore was as impressive a rookie defensive player as the league has seen at cornerback in a long time. He routinely shut down opponents as if he were a 10-year veteran. The potential for who he could turn out to be during his career in the NFL is an exciting thought for New Orleans and Ohio State fans alike.
This is the second Ohio State player in a year to win the award. Bosa, followed up his award-winning season with the Chargers by continuing his dominance on the line by racking up 12.5 sacks, and 70 combined tackles, an even better stat line the year in which he won the award.
This trend has continued the impressive streak off former Buckeyes making a name for themselves through draft day and into the NFL.
Players such including Lattimore, Bosa, Gareon Conley, Eli Apple, Malik Hooker, Darron Lee, Bradley Roby, Ryan Shazier, Jonathan Hankins have gone on to achieve respectable levels of success as well as a few Pro Bowl appearances within the last five years.
Clearly Ohio State has had success in producing NFL ready players. Urban Meyer and his coaching staff’s consistency in preparing their players with the skills and tools necessary to succeed at the next level rivals any program in the country.
The question is, are the Buckeyes primed to add more names to this impressive list of defensive NFL stars? There are a few names that come to mind.
Firstly, younger brother of Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa has quickly made a name for himself as a defensive threat off the line in Columbus. He has improved in both years he has been at Ohio State with an increase in snaps. Larry Johnson has the ability to bring the best out of his defensive linemen and with the raw talent Bosa possesses, it is entirely possible that Bosa could be the next great defensive dynamo to head to the next level.
The other player that rings a bell would be Jeffrey Okudah. Okudah is just a freshman, but his physicality and instinct are tools that cannot be taught. With the right type of guidance and coaching, things that are clearly accessible for the Buckeyes DB, the sky could be the limit for the freshman from Texas.