There are plenty of wild stories surrounding the 2013 NFL Draft: the twisted tale of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and his fake girlfriend, Tyrann Mathieu of LSU getting ready for the draft and Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina trying to come back from a horrific leg injury. The Marcus Lattimore story just got a whole lot more interesting in terms of his draft stock in the 2013 NFL Draft, because Dr. James Andrews told him that he will be ready to play in 2013.
It was expected that Marcus Lattimore would miss the entire 2013 NFL season, declaring for the 2013 NFL Draft in the hopes that a team would select him and he could spend the season rehabbing under the supervision of some of the best training staffs in the world. In some ways it parallels the Janoris Jenkins and Vontaze Burfict situations from the 2012 NFL Draft, though the sticky situation here is an injury, not questionable off the field behavior. The two teams willing to take a shot in those instances, the St. Louis Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, ended up with immensely talented defensive players that contributed right away at a discount.
The Marcus Lattimore knee injury had seemingly relegated him to being a late round consideration. With the exception of taking a quarterback to groom for the future, the first three rounds are generally reserved for prospects that can help teams right away. It's tough enough to crack the early rounds as a running back since the position is now viewed as less of a commodity, but if you're going to be on the shelf for a full season? Forget about it.
Now there is some uncertainty thrown into the situation. A lot will hinge on the progress that Marcus Lattimore will be able to make between now and the NFL Combine. If he's able to show some major progress and put himself on a track that makes playing in 2013 a real possibility, NFL teams will be forced to pay attention. With one of the most respected orthopedic surgeons in his corner, Dr. James Andrews, teams are going to respect the progress reports coming from the Marcus Lattimore camp prior to the 2013 NFL Draft.
Anyone that has seen Marcus Lattimore play at South Carolina knows why this will be such an intriguing story to follow heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. In the SEC, a conference filled with the best athletes and toughest defenses in the NCAA, Marcus Lattimore was a star – and only a junior – at the time of the injury. He's only 21 years old and was viewed as a surefire first round pick.
Don't be surprised when a team takes a shot on him.