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Ohio State defensive backs were first-round steals for NFL teams

A group of NFL teams hit the goldmine when Buckeye DBs were left on the draft board.

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

“New Orleans couldn't believe its luck. The Saints grabbed Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the No. 11 pick, filling one of their biggest needs with a player that was ranked as high as No. 3 on the team's draft board.”

Joel Erickson, The New Orleans Advocate

Already, New Orleans has become the landing spot for Ohio State Buckeyes. Last year, wide receiver Michael Thomas and safety Vonn Bell were picked up by the Saints. Last night, the Saints went back to the well to get another star-studded Buckeye—and they couldn’t believe their luck that one of their guys they needed at cornerback was still on the board.

Their guy? None other than defensive back Marshon Lattimore.

Marshon Lattimore, the No. 11 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft

The New Orleans Saints are quickly turning the Big Easy into Columbus South! #GoBucks

Posted by Land-Grant Holy Land - For Ohio State fans on Thursday, April 27, 2017

The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft was a wild ride. The Chicago Bears traded up one spot from No. 3 to No. 2, mortgaging their future in the process to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Additionally, the Kansas City Chiefs made a leap from the back-end of the first round to the No. 10 pick, in order to take QB Patrick Mahomes.

As the draft got wild fast, solid defensive backs—some that were considered to be top five picks—were left on the board throughout the first round. A few of those DBs were Ohio State Buckeyes. Right after Mahomes was selected, the New Orleans Saints couldn’t believe their luck: they were about to get a really (really) good ball-hawk in their secondary.

Mock drafts had Lattimore going in the top seven, however, the craziness of the draft cause the standout Buckeye to slide down the board. The Saints, according to the New Orleans Advocate, have been hunting high and low this offseason for an addition to their secondary.

Now in the Bayou, and on a team that has the pieces assembled for a playoff run, Lattimore might need to make more room in his trophy case, as a Super Bowl ring may be on its way.

“He's an elite guy," coach Chuck Pagano said. "He's a center fielder. We know he's a ball hawk. He's a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the football.”

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano on what defensive back Malik Hooker brings to the team, as reported by Mike Wells (ESPN.com)

Right after Lattimore got drafted, the dominoes started to fall for other Buckeyes to hear their name called at the draft in Philadelphia. Just four picks after one Ohio State DB went off the board, another went off, too.

This time, it was Malik Hooker’s name as he was selected by the Indianapolis Colts at No. 15.

Malik Hooker, the No. 15 pick in the 2017 NFL draft

The Indianapolis Colts didn't have to go far to pluck the best safety in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Posted by Land-Grant Holy Land - For Ohio State fans on Thursday, April 27, 2017

ESPN.com’s Mike Wells wrote a piece about how the former basketball prospect turned into a football star—and now is drawing early comparisons to Baltimore Raven great Ed Reed.

Like the Saints, the Colts didn’t expect Hooker to be left on the board when it was their turn to be on the clock. However, Colts general manager Chris Ballard met with Hooker before the draft just in case something happened, as Wells notes in the article.

With the zaniness that went down in the first round, defensive backs were aplenty, and the Colts saddled up and made the decision to bring Hooker to Indy.

Already, head coach Chuck Pagano has good things to say about their newly drafted member. Last season, Hooker played in 13 of the Buckeyes’ games, and tracked down a jaw-dropping 7 interceptions—while housing 3 of those for touchdowns. If he can do anything remotely close to that for the Colts, he was a steal at No. 15.

“The Saints are getting the best cornerback in the 2017 NFL Draft at No. 11...The Colts needed defensive help, and they're getting a lot of it with Hooker, who could be one of the top safeties in the NFL for a very long time.”

Walter Football’s first round NFL Draft grades on the Buckeye defensive backs selected, walterfootball.com

Seeing Lattimore and Hooker get picked seemed like steals for the Saints and Colts, respectively. Draft grades started pouring in, and, surprise, the Saints and Colts scored an ‘A’ grade from Walter Football.

An ‘A-’ was given to the Saints, as the site declared Lattimore as “the best cornerback” in this year’s draft. The Colts’ grade was slightly better, scoring an ‘A+’ evaluation. Walter Football was dumbfounded that Hooker slipped this low in the draft, and the Colts’ decision to make the pick might’ve been a home run, as Hooker has the potential to be a long-term star in the league.

The Oakland Raiders’ selection of OSU defensive back Gareon Conley at No. 24 doesn’t have an official grade due to the ongoing investigation of Conley. If Conley is cleared, Walter Football graded an ‘A’ for the Raiders pick; if Conley is found guilty (or if he is kept out of the league) then the grade issued would be an ‘F’.

Other notable grades include Cleveland receiving an ‘A’ on their No. 1 pick of Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett and a ‘B+’ for trading down to take Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers.

On the negative end of grades were the Kansas City Chiefs, who scored a ‘D+’ for moving up to pick Mahomes. The Chicago Bears didn’t really get a grade, as the site—nor anybody else—could figure out what the Bears were thinking when they gave up the fort to move one spot up.

The video below shows how much the Bears surrendered to the San Francisco 49ers for their No. 2 pick, as well as the hot takes online and the cautionary tale of quarterbacks that fizzled after going No. 2 overall.

Mitchell Trubisky is a risk but...

The Chicago Bears gambled big -- and some past QBs at No. 2 haven't worked out. Mitchell Trubisky isn't those QBs, though.

Posted by Tar Heel Blog on Friday, April 28, 2017

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