Perhaps it's slightly hyperbolic to shove a huge helping of credit for the Saints' defensive renaissance onto the rookie's plate. It's also certainly not wrong to do so.
The first-round pick has played at a lockdown level this season, smothering opposing teams' top receivers week after week. Officially Lattimore has five passes defended, one pick-six, and no touchdown catches allowed.
The film shows an even better story. Lattimore gives zero inches in press coverage, can run step-for-step down the field with wideouts, has quick route recognition, and seemingly even quicker natural reactions to the ball. It's impressive to watch a rookie like Lattimore trust his eyes, instincts and physical talent. Where most first-year players second-guess or hesitate for a beat during a play, Lattimore plays with a fluidity and confidence rarely seen in young corners.
"He's a couple games away from getting that treatment where you're just by yourself and we'll go cover here," veteran safety Kenny Vaccaro told Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate this week.
In fact, that's Lattimore's plan.
"Of course, that's the goal. That's the goal," Lattimore said. "Like a Darrelle Revis type. Of course."
Pro Football Focus published a good look at the Ohio State product this week entitled: "Saints CB Marshon Lattimore might be special."
I'll take the "might be" out for them.
According to PFF, Lattimore has been thrown at 22 times for 114 yards, and yielding a passer rating of just 50.2 in five games played. Lattimore's 94.1 grade from PFF is the highest the analytics website has ever given a rookie corner. He's on pace for a far better rookie season than Revis (82.6) and better than all but one season of the veteran's entire career.
Surely a few struggle games will come down the road as the competition ramps up toward the playoffs, but all the traits are there for the rookie to shine.
With Lattimore not giving up big plays, everything falls into place for a heretofore maligned Saints' defense. The opposite corner can receive more help, covering potential big-play problems. And the pass rush has more time to get to the QB with the secondary taking away first and second reads.