South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore won't be participating in any drills at the 2013 NFL Combine, but he might make the biggest splash. After a bed leg injury seemingly threatened his playing career this past season, Dr. James Andrews has Marcus Lattimore in a position to rock the boat big time this week in Indianapolis. With the New York Jets needing an offensive playmaker, is Marcus Lattimore worth the risk in the 2013 NFL Draft?
The New York Jets will likely lose running back Shonn Greene to free agency this offseason. That's not going to bring about many tears from Jets fans, as most have grown tired of his plodding rushing style and the lack of big plays. What it does is open up a spot in the backfield and leave a lot of carries up for grabs. While Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight are vying for those touches, the Jets will need to bring in a third running back. Would the Jets be willing to gamble on South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore in the 2013 NFL Draft?
It's a tough call for any NFL team. Prior to the ugly injury, Marcus Lattimore was seen as one of the top talents, a running back with size and speed who could take a lot of punishment and also rip off some huge runs. He was tested week in and week out in the SEC, and while South Carolina is no slouch program he wasn't benefiting from an offensive line on the same level as Eddie Lacy did with Alabama.
After tearing his ACL, LCL and PCL and dislocating his right knee after a hit against Tennessee in 2012, there were doubts as to whether Marcus Lattimore would even have an NFL career. Less than a week later, he was working with Dr,. James Andrews on getting his knee right instead of feeling sorry for himself. Dr. Andrews has said that Marcus Lattimore's work ethic is on par with Adrian Peterson and that he is three months ahead of schedule right now. He also mentioned that Lattimore has added 20 pounds to his frame – almost all muscle. Dr. James Andrews says there is a possibility he could be ready to play in 2013.
It's all risk management at this point for NFL teams interested in Marcus Lattimore. The Jets need immediate impact early in the 2013 NFL Draft, so the risk is drafting Marcus Lattimore and him not being ready to play this season. The potential payoff is a supremely talented running back that can be the focal point of an offense, at a much later pick than there he would normally be taken. It will be interesting to see how Marcus Lattimore progresses leading up to the NFL Draft and how that impacts his stock.