Oct 6, 2012; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore (21) runs the ball out of his own end zone against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE
South Carolina junior running back Marcus Lattimore has been the general-consensus top back of this class since a short time into his freshman season. He was the top running back recruit coming out of high school and immediately dominated as a freshman earning all-SEC honors.
What is there to like about Lattimore?
Well the size is certainly there. Lattimore should measure in at about 5’11”, and at least 225 pounds; which are pretty much textbook measurements for an NFL running back. The speed isn’t overly impressive, but he gets up to speed quickly and has a decisive first step.
The all-around game is there as well. Lattimore is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and should be a rock-solid check down option. He won’t be a dynamic LaDanian Tomlinson-esque receiver, but he certainly could be a Steven Jackson type workhorse. Like Jackson, Lattimore isn’t going to leap off the page with his explosiveness, but he can certainly rack up all purpose yards for a team in need of a rock at the running back position. Lattimore has also shown that he isn’t a liability as a blocker.
So what’s not to like? Well, as mentioned, he isn’t really an explosive player at the running back position. He is a short strider that gets to the hole quickly, but he really isn’t a player that will constantly threaten to take it to the house. He isn’t as explosive as Trent Richardson and will not be drafted as high, but he is a versatile threat who can come in and be the workhorse day one like Trent Richardson. Lattimore is coming off of a severe knee injury, and he doesn’t look quite like the same guy we saw his freshman year.
I am not as down on drafting running backs in the first round as a lot of others are. I think the position is not devalued to the point where you avoid it entirely in round one, but there has to be a special talent there to make it worth it. Trent Richardson was a special talent, but had knee concerns. Lattimore is an excellent talent, but I am not sure that he has the outstanding attribute that will make him worth a top 20 selection. I think this will be similar to the 2010 draft where the lone top running back is taken late in round one by a mostly-complete team lacking a running game. I will definitely be keeping my eye on Eddie Lacy and Mike Gillislee though.
Far-to-early-prediction: the Packers have built an excellent franchise off of getting good value with their first round picks.. I think Lattimore could be their guy this year.