It has been nearly seven years since Curtis Martin last put on a helmet for the New York Jets. Martin of course was acquired as a free agent in 1997 from the bitter rival New England Patriots. This was the last time New York had an elite running back. LaDainian Tomlinson really does not count as he was on the downside of his career when he signed with the Jets. Shonn Greene was never more than a change of pace back. A few years ago there was a rising college star, but his future is in doubt.
Marcus Lattimore immediately established himself as one of the better running backs in the country.
In 2010, Lattimore rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns. This South Carolina newcomer demonstrated a unique running style that combined power and speed. He held hopes of taking home a Heisman Trophy and eventually becoming a high first-round NFL Draft pick. These goals were within reach. Sadly a series of injuries derailed a promising career. The final injury occurred during a game in October against Tennessee when Lattimore suffered a violent ACL tear.
There was suddenly doubt as to whether Lattimore could ever return to the gridiron. Of course he decided to skip his senior year not wanting to risk further injury. Currently all indications are that he is progressing nicely. A precedent was set last year by Adrian Peterson when it comes to running backs making remarkable returns. New York needs a game-changer and if healthy, Lattimore fits that description. Due to concerns, he may slip to at least the third round. That would be a perfect time for New York to take a chance.