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Ohio State Football: Defensive Backs Highlight 2017 Buckeye Draft Class

With the 2017 NFL Draft just around the corner, BSB will be publishing draft bios on the top seven draft eligible Buckeyes. We will start with the OSU defensive backs.

The 2017 NFL Draft is set to begin Thursday with the first round and three former Buckeye defensive backs could all be selected in the first 32 picks. What follows are draft bios on each OSU defensive back along with analysis from draft analyst Erick Trickel from the Mile High Report. Draft rankings are from CBS Sports.

Gareon Conley

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Cornerback

6-0 • 195

CBS Rank: Overall 25; CB 3

Combine 40: 4.44 seconds

ACCOLADES: A two-year starter at Ohio State, Conley is shooting up the draft boards after a stellar showing at the NFL combine. He earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors in 2015 before being named a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016. In his two years as a starter, Conley grabbed six interceptions and tallied 13 pass breakups.

PROJECTED ROUND: Mid to late first

POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles

CONLEY SAYS: “I set myself apart mentally with mental toughness and being able to handle adversity on the field. I feel that is what sets me apart. I feel like press-man and versatility to play nickel and corner (set me apart). I am enjoying the process. I have to make the most out of everything.”

EXPERT’S TAKE: “Conley hasn’t exactly got a lot of attention. This is partially due to having Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker in that secondary and both looking to be top-10 picks. However, Conley is a really good corner in his own right and checks off all the categories NFL teams look for like size, speed and experience. His ceiling isn’t as high as the other Buckeye secondary members, but he also doesn’t have as low of a floor, making him a safer pick. At some point in the first round Conley is going to hear his name called, and that team’s decision makers will be ecstatic about it as they are getting a really good player.” – Erick Trickel

Malik Hooker

Joseph Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports

Safety

6-1 • 206

CBS Rank: Overall 7; FS 1

Combine 40: DNR (injured)

ACCOLADES: Hooker was a one-year wonder for Ohio State. In his only year as a starter, he earned first-team All-America honors after he hauled in seven interceptions, returning three for touchdowns.

PROJECTED ROUND: Early to mid-first

POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns

HOOKER SAYS: “It still really hasn’t hit me yet that I can be a potential top-10 pick. Just to be a one-year starter. A lot of guys play three years and don’t have the opportunity to say they are a projected top-10 pick. It is definitely shocking and still unbelievable to me. I feel like God wouldn’t put me in a position where he wouldn’t want me to be successful. I feel like the road that I am going down is going to be a successful one and it is going to play out the way I want it to play out.”

EXPERT’S TAKE: “Hooker is one of the top safeties in the class and many people’s top safety. There isn’t a single thing he can’t do for a defense, which is a big reason why he is such a prized piece for defensive coordinators. He is so versatile in what he can do and what scheme he can play in. Every defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach should and likely will pound the table for this kid. Even though he has one year of experience, it doesn’t show on tape. The sky’s the limit for the young versatile safety, and that will get him drafted in the first 10 picks.” – Erick Trickel

Marshon Lattimore

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Cornerback

6-0 • 193

CBS Rank: Overall 5; CB 1

Combine 40: 4.36 seconds

ACCOLADES: After dealing with injuries for most of his career at Ohio State, Lattimore exploded onto the scene in 2016. He recorded four interceptions and nine pass breakups in his only season as a starter and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection.

PROJECTED ROUND: Early first

POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints

LATTIMORE SAYS: “I knew I could play. I just had to get healthy. Once I got healthy, I could show everybody what I can do. I know what type of athletic ability I have. I just had to get out there and show them. I am smooth and I can do everything. I didn’t do everything at the combine so I just had to show them what I can do (at OSU pro day).”

EXPERT’S TAKE: “Depending on who you ask, Lattimore will be the top cornerback taken. The popular thinking here is Lattimore will enter the NFL and become a top-10 cornerback almost immediately. His tape is fascinating and such a joy to watch. Much like Malik Hooker, Lattimore is a versatile piece that just lacks experience. His draft stock is high and will see him drafted early in the first round. NFL wide receivers should be keeping an eye on who takes him.” – Erick Trickel


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