NFL Draft: University with Best Secondary Prospects

Story posted April 6, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

In today’s modern NFL, the need for good defensive backs is paramount. This year’s crop of defensive backs look primed to take over the league with the big names coming from marquee programs.

Florida and LSU always talk about being “DBU” and having players like Jamal Adams and Teez Tabor going pro helps the name. The only problem is that Ohio State has three great defensive backs in Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, and Malik Hooker, with all of them being considered towards the top of their position group.

Lattimore is probably the best of the trio as most draft pundits have him going to the Titans at number five. His combine performance almost cemented his status as he ran a 4.35 in the 40, jumped 11’0” in the long jump, and has a 38.5 inch vertical.

His athleticism is not the only thing that NFL scouts like about Lattimore as he has elite level ball skills. A corner with ball skills means a team gets a player who can make a play on the ball, instead of just knocking it down.

The one knock on Lattimore is his lack of starting experience as he only started at Ohio State for one year. Teams may be concerned with the lack of experience, but his athleticism and ball skills are too good to pass up on.

One of the reasons he didn’t start was due to the presence of 2016 first round draft pick Eli Apple and Conley, who started opposite him this year. While Conley does not possess the athleticism of Lattimore, he has the length that NFL teams covet.

His technique is another area that separates him from his teammate as he is great at shadowing receivers on the boundary. While his ball skills are not as elite as Lattimore’s, Conley possesses good ball skills and likes to compete when the ball is in the air.

While Tabor, Tre’Davious White, and Marlon Humphrey have been consistently talked about as the corners behind Lattimore, some scouts actually believe that Conley is the second best in this year’s class. Conley’s ability to mirror corners against big time competition might be the reason he hears his name earlier than the players mentioned above.

While Hooker is the player mentioned last in this article, he might be the best of the trio. His ball skills are elite as he attacks the ball in the air and once he gets the ball, he can take it to the house.

When scouts talk about Hooker, they compare his ball hawking style to Baltimore Raven legend Ed Reed. That is a lofty comparison as Reed was a dominant player on the back end of a vaunted Ravens defense.

Hooker is a very raw prospect as he only started playing football in his junior year of high school. He is still learning the position and whatever team takes him can mold him into a future All-Pro.

Lattimore, Conley, and Hooker are all special talents that will make immediate impacts in the NFL. All three of these players will be drafted very high, with all of them being drafted in the top 16.


Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email