Latimer: “We’re going to shock a lot of people.”

You have to dig a little to find Cody Latimer’s name on any rankings list of draft-eligible wide receivers, if only because the Indiana junior chose to come out in a season in which the position is loaded with talent.

On NFLDraftScout.com, for instance — the rankings service used by CBS Sports — Latimer is the 19th-rated wide receiver in the draft and the 146th rated player overall. That makes him projected to be a fourth- or fifth-round selection. There are three true blue-chips in the class in Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M’s Mike Lee and Southern California’s Marqise Lee and several others — including Penn State’s Allen Robinson — who grade out as fringe first rounders. NFLDraftScout.com projects that as many as seven receivers could go in the first round and grades 11 as likely to go in the top two rounds.

Latimer isn’t one of those and neither is his former teammate and current training partner Kofi Hughes. The graduating senior is the 649th player overall in those rankings, which makes him very likely to go undrafted.

But Latimer believes that both he and Hughes will prove those rankings wrong, and that once NFL scouts and personnel directors see them at the NFL Draft Combine and Indiana’s Pro Day and dig deeper into their film from this season, they’ll find the receivers much more valuable. 

“I feel like we were overlooked,” Latimer said by phone Tuesday in his first public comments since deciding to go pro. “We didn’t have the best record, and we were overlooked. A lot of people didn’t see what all we had to offer. I think when people really look at tape and see how fast and explosive we are at the combine, we’re going to shock a lot of people. We’re not worried about the people in front of us, we’re worried about ourselves and trying to make it to the top.”

That’s a big part of the reason Latimer decided to become the first player since Tandon Doss in 2011 to leave Indiana early for the draft. Latimer wouldn’t disclose the grade he got from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee or where he was projected to be taken. He said he was “comfortable,” with the grade, but clearly also believed he could perform above it. He said Indiana’s coaches told him another year with the program wouldn’t hurt him, but that they would support whatever decision he made.

“It was a long process and it was hard,” Latimer said. “The toughest part was with my teammates, knowing I was going to leave them and wouldn’t be around the program anymore. But I’m happy with my decision. I’m excited now that I’ve made my decision. I feel like I’m ready to go to the next level.”

To get the highest entry point to the next level possible, Latimer says the most important thing he needs to show is speed. The NFL also wants to see more of his technique when dealing with man-to-man press coverage, he said, but they’re going to be just as interested in his 40 time.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder clearly has the size to deal with NFL cornerbacks and the 72 passes he caught for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns in a second-team All-Big Ten season prove that he has good hands and was at least capable of being a go-to receiver in major conference college football. Still, there are a lot of receivers Latimer’s size in the NFL now, and many of them are extremely speedy. Latimer says he was given the impression that he’s viewed as a 4.5 or 4.6-second 40-yard dash runner. He said he hasn’t run the 40 since high school and that he can do a lot better.

“I’m going for 4.3 or 4.4,” he said. “I know I have it in me.”

That’s where his training and also Hughes should factor in. Latimer and Hughes have been working out together at Fit Speed Athletic Performance, a training center in Weston, Fla., that is co-owned by Chicago Bears star receiver Brandon Marshall. Hughes, who caught 47 passes for 739 yards and seven touchdowns in his final season at Indiana, was one of the Hoosiers’ captains and has pushed Latimer to improve since the Dayton, Ohio native arrived in Bloomington in 2011. That hasn’t changed now that both players are looking to move on.

“It’s great,” Latimer said. “It drives me. He helped me since I got to Indiana. Each year we’ve improved our games. We’re used to being competitive, always going at it, being leaders going at it at the receivers spots. We’re always pushing each other. He looks out for me if I’m down, and when I have to pick him up, I do. We’re used to pushing each other through the hardest times. If we’re tired, one of us is always like ‘Wake up man, we’ve gotta go train let’s go do it, let’s get this.”

The NFL Draft Combine runs Feb. 19-25 at LucasOil Stadium. Latimer and Hughes will find out within the next two weeks if they are invited. Indiana has not yet scheduled its Pro Day. The NFL Draft is later this year and runs May 8-10 in New York City.

2 comments

  1. Good luck Cody and Kofi! Tandon needs some Hoosier receivers in the League to get more respect for his abilities. Every time I watch him play he shows that he is an NFL player who deserves to be on the field. He catches everything!

  2. Good luck guys and thanks for making so many plays for the crimson and cream. Both you guys have the ability to play at the next level. Work hard to get ready for the Combine/Pro Day, and when your opportunity comes grab hold of it and squeeze it into submission. The whole of Hoosier Nation has your backs. Go Hoosiers.

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