Marcus Lattimore will enter the 2013 NFL Draft. The South Carolina running back might have first-round talent. His football future is unsure, though, after the gruesome knee injury he suffered against Tennessee. Rehab may keep him out until 2014 (probably has a better shot working full-time with NFL doctors and trainers). His situation resembles that of Willis McGahee entering the 2003 NFL Draft.
McGahee was bound for the Top 10, before blowing out multiple ligaments in the BCS Championship game. The Bills chose him at No. 23 overall in the first round, still the first running back taken. He sat out for a year, before debuting with 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2004.
Lattimore has a few additional impediments to overcome. He will have two surgically repaired knees, rather than one. His left knee was still not 100 percent from his 2011 injury before injuring his right during 2012. McGahee was coming off a dominant college season. With Lattimore, a team is projecting based on his 2010 freshman year. He’s smart, does a number of little things well and should have a role to play in the NFL. Whether he can recover that power and stamina to break tackles and be an NFL-level work horse is another matter.
Where Lattimore goes will be intriguing. This is not a strong running back class. Unless someone has a strong combine, there may not be one taken in the first round. How much further Lattimore falls may depend on how far along his rehab is going at the combine. Will teams go for the higher ceiling or the higher floor?
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