New Orleans Saints fans can expect career numbers from Lattimore

Marshon Lattimore #23, New Orleans Saints (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Marshon Lattimore #23, New Orleans Saints (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Time flies when you’re having fun. A little over eight years ago, New Orleans Saints star Marshon Lattimore was one of six finalists for the U.S. Army Player of the Year Award and a four-star recruit that had just committed to Ohio State to play his college ball.

One year later, at the close of a very successful campaign, the Buckeyes won the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, but it was bittersweet for the young man who had been given a redshirt. Lattimore watched the game from the sideline and wasn’t able to participate.

You know how these guys are. There isn’t a competitor on the planet that doesn’t want to be on the field with his teammates and helping them hoist the trophy. Lattimore bounced back though.

A young man with potential joins the New Orleans Saints.

The 2015 and 2016 seasons were where most of the football world began to take notice of this Cleveland, Ohio native. Lattimore only played 16 games over the course of those two seasons but racked up four interceptions en route to a First-team All-Big Ten nod. That’s when most of you Saints fans started getting to know him.

New Orleans made Lattimore the 11th-overall selection in 2017’s NFL Draft. That’s a decision that has paid off.

In addition to earning a spot on the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team and the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year nod in 2017, Lattimore has also played his way onto the Pro Bowl roster in three of the past four seasons (2017, 2019, 2020).

Here’s where New Orleans Saints fans raise an eyebrow.

Recently, in a ranking by Pro Football Focus of the top 32 outside cornerbacks in the NFL, Lattimore landed at 18. Now, that seems a tad low, doesn’t it? For an explanation of how such atrocities could occur, we take a gander at the words of Ben Linsey, the writer of this one. Here’s what he had to say on the subject. Don’t worry. There’s a response coming immediately afterward.

"If Lattimore’s career was flipped in reverse order, there’s a reasonable chance that he would be inside the top five on this list. Instead, he’s heading in the wrong direction.Lattimore’s PFF grade has fallen from 86.1 as a rookie to 77.5 (2018), 65.6 (2019), and 59.1 (2020) in the three years since 2017. The seven touchdowns allowed into his coverage this past season were tied for second-most of any cornerback in the league. He still showcases lockdown man-coverage ability at times, but it has been less consistent of late."

Okay, on second thought, that’s pretty accurate, but here’s the good news. The 2021-2022 regular season will be a career year for Marshon Lattimore. Yep! Throw that in the category of ‘bold predictions’.

Yes New Orleans Saints fans, we’re doubling down.

Here’s why the belief that 23 will capture some old magic can be believed to be accurate. The Saints’ decision to exercise Lattimore’s fifth-year option on his rookie deal means the 2021-2022 season is also a contract year, and you know how these NFL stars tend to elevate their level of play when a new deal and their money is on the line.

For Lattimore, there’s a reputation that needs to be repaired as well. He was arrested for being in possession of what might have been a loaded (and stolen) handgun back in March. Whether right or wrong, those are the types of things that follow people. Lattimore knows that, and he’s going to be fine as he tries to win back the trust of some of his fans.

In his first four seasons, this young man has appeared in 64 games and started every one of them (if you include seven playoff game appearances). The results have been good. He has 253 total tackles, five forced fumbles, 65 pass breakups, and 12 interceptions on his resume.

He also has a lot on the line in the coming campaign as he auditions for a new deal. Expect his best effort and a career year as a result.

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He’s averaged a little over four tackles per game during his career so far. Let’s pencil him in for a full 17-game season during the 2021-2022 run with five stops per contest, giving him 85 total tackles to go along with five interceptions. You can throw that one in the category of bold predictions as well. Marshon Lattimore is good enough to hold up his end of the bargain.