The New Orleans Saints couldn't have scripted the first 10 picks of the NFL draft better than the way things unfolded Thursday night.
An unexpected, surprising run on offensive talent -- three wide receivers, two quarterbacks and two running backs -- in the first 10 selections pushed down some of the top defenders right into the Saints' laps at No. 11.
When it came time for the Saints to make the first of their two picks in the first round, they had the option of going for one of the elite defensive players still on the board at defensive end, linebacker or cornerback.
Knowing they have to face three of the bigger wide receivers in the league twice a year in Atlanta's Julio Jones, Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin and Tampa Bay's Mike Evans, the Saints decided to shore up the secondary with Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore at No. 11.
The 6-foot, 193-pound Lattimore, who played only two seasons at Ohio State after redshirting his freshman year, is a physical defender who excelled in the press coverage Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen likes to use. Lattimore also has the speed and leaping ability to go with the physicality, running the 40 in 4.36 seconds and recording a 36 1/2-inch vertical.
Lattimore was seen by most draft experts as the top cornerback available (No. 5 overall by NFLDraftScout.com) this year and was expected to go off the board in the first five or six picks. But he slid to the Saints, who desperately need help on that side of the ball after three 7-9 seasons in a row.
Coach Sean Payton said, "We didn’t feel like in a lot of our own mocks and maybe our own projections that we’d have a chance at Marshon (Lattimore). We’re excited, real excited about him being there at 11."
The Saints used their selection at No. 32 -- acquired from the New England Patriots in the trade for wide receiver Brandin Cooks -- for Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk. The 6-6, 311-pound Ramczyk, who played left tackle for the Badgers, is likely the heir apparent at right tackle for 12-year veteran Zach Strief.
The Saints thought they had that player two years ago when they selected former Stanford standout Andrus Peat in the first round, but Peat settled in at left guard last season and could remain there if Ramczyk can hold things down on the right side, opposite veteran left tackle Terron Armstead. In a weak draft for tackles, Ramczyk was rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the top prospect at his position and the 16th overall player even though he's coming off a hip injury.
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