The NFL’s first Defensive Rookie of the Year award was given to a cornerback: Lem Barney of the Detroit Lions back in 1967. Since then, only seven other corners (and two safeties) have received the honor.
Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints joined the club at Saturday’s NFL Honors award show, winning a landslide vote over Buffalo Bills CB Tre’Davious White and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster.
Lattimore and Barney have another historical connection: With Saints running back Alvin Kamara winning the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Lattimore and Kamara became the second set of teammates to sweep the league’s ROTY awards. The first were Barney and Lions RB Mel Farr in 1967, exactly 50 years prior.
After being chosen with the 11th overall pick in the draft out of Ohio State, Lattimore helped the Saints return to the playoffs after a three-season drought with a Pro Bowl campaign. He recorded 52 tackles, five interceptions, 18 pass breakups and one forced fumble. He had a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in New Orleans’ Week 6 win over the Lions.
“Lattimore’s physical traits jump off the game film,” wrote NFL.com’s Kevin Patra on Saturday. “The Ohio State product gives zero inches in press coverage, can glide step-for-step with wideouts, owns quick route recognition, has superior vision, and reacts to the ball with lightning fast reflexes. His natural instincts and understanding of defensive concepts made Lattimore an immediate lockdown corner.”
Lattimore even went viral this season. On Christmas Eve, his interception against the Atlanta Falcons — when he dove to defend a pass and the ball rested on his backside for a few seconds before he secured it in his hands — became known as the “Butt Interception” … or the “Butt Pick,” or the “Buttception,” depending on who you ask.