INDIANAPOLIS — A couple weeks back, Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke predicted the Indianapolis Colts would be interested in Ohio State safety Malik Hooker with their first-round pick in this year's NFL Draft.
WalterFootball.com's Charlie Campbell is thinking somewhat along the same lines as Burke, but instead believes the team will go with a former Buckeyes cornerback.
In his most recent mock draft, Campbell lists Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore as his prediction for the Colts' pick in the middle of the first round.
You can see Campbell's entire mock draft by clicking here, but here's what he had to write about why he believes Lattimore is a good fit for the Colts:*
"Some years of bad moves by now former general manager Ryan Grigson, like trading a first-round pick for Trent Richardson and blowing one on Bjoern Werner, are coming back to bite Indianapolis. The Colts have a ton of needs on their talent-deficient roster, including edge rusher, running back, cornerback, defensive line, and more offensive line talent. The defense is in horrible shape, so Indianapolis could take the best defensive player available regardless of position. Wilson would make sense because he would upgrade the Colts' pass coverage immediately.*
Lattimore played really well in 2016, recording 41 tackles, four interceptions and nine passes broken up. Scouting sources raved about how Lattimore looked in fall camp before the 2016 season, and during this season, some team sources said they have graded him as a top-16 pick. The 6-foot, 192-pounder has good size to go with athletic ability. As a backup in 2015 during his redshirt freshman season, Lattimore recorded three passes broken up and five tackles."
One bit of explanation about that 2015 redshirt freshman season for Lattimore: he had been dealing with a chronic hamstring issue; one that led to surgery that made his miss his freshman season, and then flared up again that sophomore year.
But he came back on fire for his redshirt junior season, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors, and showed exactly why NFL.com's Lance Zierlein considers Lattimore one of the key "uber-athletes" in this draft class.
In fact, in Lattimore’s NFL.com Draft Profile, he was compared to none other than Indianapolis Colts' No. 1 cornerback, Vontae Davis.
"Average-sized, one-year starter with explosive athleticism and a loaded tool box," Zierlein wrote. "He has the feet, hips and agility to be a lockdown cornerback and the ball skills to make teams pay for looking in his direction. His lack of experience could show up early, but he has the confidence and competitive nature that should help him overcome those issues. He has the ability to become a Pro Bowl cornerback early in his career."
Lattimore is actually one of three cornerbacks that have been linked to the Colts in various more major mock drafts:
• Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo has Indianapolis taking Iowa corner Desmond King.
• And Campbell had originally believed the Colts could take Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson in his first mock draft.
While all are talented players and would likely be welcome on any NFL roster, the Colts are actually pretty loaded at the cornerback position as it is heading into 2017— they just need all the players to be healthy at the same time.
At the cornerback position, specifically, the team is set to return its top two players at the position from the 2016 season in Davis and Patrick Robinson (who ended the season on IR). Others, like four-year veterans Rashaan Melvin and Darryl Morris, late-season signee Charles James II, as undrafted rookie Christopher Milton, could also be back on the offseason roster.
Productive veteran Darius Butler, however, is set to hit the free agent market, so that, mixed with any injury concerns, could lead the Colts to possibly go with a talented cornerback in the first round this year.
The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.