It looks like Marcus Lattimore will decide to enter the 2013 NFL draft. Lattimore’s 2011 and 2012 season were ended by serious knee injuries. His right knee injury this October was particularly severe. The South Carolina star tore three knee ligaments and dislocated the joint. His 2011 knee injury was a tear in his left acl.
The Gamecock’s captain is a hard working young man with terrific character. He will attack his rehabilitation aggressively. A number of quality NFL running backs sustained serious knee injuries in college and went on have productive pro careers. Frank Gore tore his acl in his right and then his left knee in consecutive seasons at the University of Miami. He slipped to the 3rd round of the 2005 NFL draft and proved to be a steal. Gore has been one of the NFL’s best backs in his career. He has also been consistent and durable.
Willis McGahee’s left knee was shredded by a hit in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl National Championship Game against Ohio State. McGahee’s knee injury was just as severe as Lattimore’s recent injury. McGahee was still taken in the 1st round of the 2003 NFL draft despite facing a daunting rehab. The former Hurricane running back recovered enough from the devastating injury to make a couple of Pro Bowls and has had a good NFL career that is still going.
Jamal Lewis tore a knee ligament in college at Tennessee. He still was a high 1st round pick in the 2000 NFL draft. Lewis ran for almost 11,000 yards in his NFL career and was not injury-plagued. Marcus Lattimore may have to sit out the 2013 season to rehab his latest knee injury. His draft status will be determined largely by how well he is progressing. He is unlikely to be a 1st round pick because of the consecutive knee injuries and the running back position has been devalued in recent years.
Lattimore is a big downhill back that can run between the tackles. He does not have great speed, but is surprisingly shifty in the open field. Lattimore also is fairly versatile. He can catch the ball and will stymie a blitzing linebacker in pass protection. Lattimore has a nose for the end zone and rarely puts the ball on the ground. A team may find themselves with a pretty good power back to help their running game. His rehabilitation will have to go extremely well to convince a team to spend a 2nd round pick on him. He likely will slip to the 3rd round or later depending on the medical evaluation. Marcus Lattimore could be a fine value selection for the patient NFL team.