NFL

New Orleans Saints take cornerback Lattimore 11th overall in NFL draft

Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore, left, poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New Orleans Saints during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore, left, poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New Orleans Saints during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

METAIRIE, La. (AP) -- The New Orleans Saints have selected Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the 11th overall pick in the NFL draft as they aim to shore up a pass defense that ranked last in the NFL last season.

Coach Sean Payton made no secret that improving the Saints' defense was his priority this offseason. It was unavoidable after New Orleans led the league in offense but still finished below .500 at 7-9 for a third straight season.

The Saints ranked 27th in defense last season, allowing 375.4 yards per game, and ranked last in yards allowed passing. They also ranked second-to-last in points allowed with 28.4.

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The 6-foot, 193-pound Lattimore was the first cornerback selected in this year's draft. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016, when he had four interceptions. That was his first full season with the Buckeyes after overcoming nagging hamstring injuries during his first two years with the program.

Now Lattimore could compete to start at cornerback as a rookie. Delvin Breaux has been their top player at that spot. The other opening day starter at cornerback in 2016, P.J. Williams, played in only two games last season because of a severe concussion.

The Saints entered Thursday night's first round with two picks in the first round. The second is the 32nd pick acquired from New England as part of a trade that sent receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots.

And New Orleans has been looking for help with defensive front as well, having struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks. New Orleans' defense had 30 sacks last season and ranked 27th in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt.

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