Marcus Lattimore is a great story, but would he fit in Foxboro?
|03.29.13 at 1:24 am ET|
Marcus Lattimore is a walking, talking Disney film come to life.
The running back out of South Carolina suffered an absolutely devastating injury on Oct. 27, 2012 — he tore the anterior cruciate, lateral collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee in an absolute gruesome scene. (Seriously — the video is bad.) The injury ended his season, and quite possibly, could have finished him as an NFL prospect, despite the fact that it ended a string where he rushed for 100-plus yards three times in eight previous games.
But the 6-foot, 218-pounder has spent the better part of the last five months working with famed orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, and at USC’s recent Pro Day, after going through a full series of drills, he received a round of applause from reps from the 31 teams in attendance.
And now, according to USA Today, there’s the news that the Patriots will meet with Lattimore — this on top of a report from the combine last month from the Boston Herald that Lattimore met with New England running backs coach Ivan Fears at the combine.
Would be fit with the Patriots? It’s an interesting debate.
With Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden currently on the roster — as well as the possibility of Jeff Demps making his regular-season debut in 2013, and the chance that Leon Washington could also be in line for some reps on offense — running back is not a big area of need, especially with the first three currently under contract for the next two seasons.
At the same time, several draft insiders, including Mike Mayock of the NFL Network, say that if it wasn’t for the 2012 injury, Lattimore would be the best running back on the board in this draft. And in the wake of what happened, Lattimore is currently considered someone who could be available in the middle to late rounds, and New England has almost always flipped conventional wisdom on its head when it comes to the draft. (To that point, in recent years, the Patriots have drafted multiple players at the same position, including Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in 2010 and Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen in 2011.) New England has always welcomed high-character guys like Lattimore, and if they could find a way to stash him for a year while it figured out what to do with him, it could conceivably work.
When talking about Lattimore”s future, it’s important to note that Frank Gore of the Niners and Willis McGahee of the Broncos suffered similar knee injuries, but both bounced back after surgery in relatively short order to become top-level running backs. And then, there’s the case of Adrian Peterson, who tore an ACL at the end of the 2011 season, but came back in 2012 and got within nine yards of Eric Dickerson‘s rushing record. For his part — perhaps buoyed by those success stories — Lattimore said he wants to play football somewhere in 2013.
Ultimately, despite the interest shown by the Patriots, from a New England perspective, a marriage between Lattimore and the Patriots appears to be a long shot. Given the relative lack of picks New England has this season — a first-, second- and third-round selections, as well as two in the seventh round — and given the fact the Patriots have other areas of greater need, it would be something of a surprise to see him in Foxboro this fall.
But when it comes to Lattimore making it in the NFL, it’s a different story: after all, based on what he’s been able to accomplish to this point in his life, you’d have to be foolish to bet against him.
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