New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints get defensive with first NFL Draft pick

Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore, left, reacts with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New Orleans Saints during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia.
Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore, left, reacts with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New Orleans Saints during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. AP

The New Orleans Saints got defensive with their No. 11 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

On a night full of surprise offensive picks, the Saints may have made the most predictable selection when they drafted Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore.

In a deep cornerback class, Lattimore was widely considered the best of the group.

As a redshirt sophomore in 2017, he registered 41 tackles and four interceptions with nine passes defended for the Buckeyes. The 6-foot, 193-pound Lattimore was clocked at 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He also registered a vertical jump of 38.5 inches.

He battled hamstring injuries his first two seasons at Ohio State, but when he’s healthy he’s considered an elite athlete. The Saints are hoping he’s a lockdown cornerback with Pro Bowl potential. He’ll get plenty of early opportunities to prove himself in New Orleans.

In Lance Zierlein’s profile of Lattimore on NFL.com, one scout provided a glowing assessment.

“I’ve studied the top cornerbacks coming out and he’s the best I’ve seen,” said an unnamed AFC personnel director. “He’s so athletic that he can just post up under the receiver’s chin and shadow him all over the field. And he’s tough, too. He’ll be one of the top cornerbacks pretty quickly.”

The Saints bolstered their offensive line with their second first round pick, which was acquired in the Brandin Cooks trade with New England.

With the final pick of the night, No. 32, the Saints selected Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk. The Badger is 6-foot-6, 310 pounds. NFL.com’s 6.2 grade tied Ramczyk with Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp as the two best offensive linemen in the draft.

“He’s really athletic and he’s really smart. There are a lot of Wisconsin linemen who start in the league because they learn an NFL system and they are taught the right way. He played against Arden Key, Sam Hubbard and Taco Charlton. This guy is battle tested against three future first rounders,” one NFC midwest scout told Zierlein.

Draft history

The Saints have focused on the offensive and defensive lines in recent drafts. Last year, they took Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins 12th overall. In 2015, they selected Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat 13th overall. Like this year, they had two first-rounders in 2015 and used the 31st overall selection on Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony.

The Saints drafted Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks 20th overall back in 2013. They traded Cooks this offseason to New England, which is how they collected their second first-rounder this year.

The draft continues Friday and Saturday. Rounds 2-3 will begin Friday at 6 p.m. The remaining four rounds will be Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. Both days will be televised on ESPN and NFL Network.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

NFL Draft

Rounds 2-3: Friday, 6 p.m.

Rounds 4-7: Saturday, 11 a.m.

TV: ESPN, NFL Network

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