One player who fans will be rooting for entering the 2013 NFL Draft, regardless of the team they follow, is South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. He tore the ACL in his left knee in 2011, and then tore multiple ligaments in his right knee in 2012. So it was surprising that he chose to forego his senior season and enter the draft, but with his playing status for 2013 very up in the air Lattimore had little to lose by leaving school.
There has been some positive buzz surrounding Lattimore’s recovery, and he actually completed a short workout at South Carolina’s Pro Day in late March. The New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams have both reportedly had Lattimore in for a visit, but beyond that it’s unclear if any other teams have any interest or if he will even be drafted later this month.
During his one fully healthy collegiate season, 2010, Lattimore had 1,197 rushing yards and set a school-record for total touchdowns with 19 (17 rushing, two receiving). Despite playing just 16 games over the past two seasons, he showed a nose for the end zone with 21 rushing touchdowns and was also productive as a pass receiver with 45 total receptions.
In today’s NFL, with the wide usage of multiple running backs, Lattimore may be able to serve in a specialized role where his strengths can be maximized and his workload can be monitored closely. With the durability concerns he brings no team is likely to use him in anything more than a complementary role, which will limit his on-field impact early in his career and create skepticism that he can ever become a quintessential workhorse back.
Lattimore gets high marks for his intangibles, and if he remains on track to make a remarkable recovery and suit up in 2013 that will be a testament to that. He may be able to sustain a solid NFL career for longer than anyone who saw his knee injury last season would expect, but I just don’t think Lattimore will become a star.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.