Marcus Lattimore and the 5 Biggest Injury Red Flags in the 2013 NFL Draft

Scott CarasikContributor IIJanuary 24, 2013

Marcus Lattimore and the 5 Biggest Injury Red Flags in the 2013 NFL Draft

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    Injury red flags are somethings that could completely drop players out of the NFL draft. They take some of the best talent and turn them into some of the scariest picks because of the risk involved.

    Marcus Lattimore is a perfect example of that, but we'll get to him later. In a seven-round draft, there will surely be plenty of players will have injury questions, but the following are the biggest red flags in the 2013 NFL draft.

OL Barrett Jones, Alabama

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    Barrett Jones played the recent BCS National Championship Game with a Lisfranc injury (h/t CommishOnline.com). While that's not a great injury to have to try to play through, it's one from which most people can recover easily.

    That is, if you aren't over 300 pounds like Barrett Jones is. He will have to fight through the injury, and while it's not anything close to career-ending, it's still something that can bother him during his first year in the NFL.

    The biggest worry that Jones faces from here on out is the possible development of arthritis in his joints from the injury. If he doesn't take time off to completely rest after his surgery and arthritis develops as a result, he will have pain in his feet for the rest of his life.

RB/WR/RS Denard Robinson, Michigan

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    Denard Robinson sustained nerve damage in his right elbow due to an injury incurred in late October against Nebraska. The former starting quarterback will have trouble staying at quarterback in the NFL regardless of the injury, but the elbow problem doesn't help his case.

    Also, according to MLive.com's Kyle Meinke, Robinson possibly increased his timetable for recovery by playing in the last three games of the season. However, he's finally been cleared for contact at the Senior Bowl. 

    Either way, any time you have nerve damage, it's a scary thing to deal with and a true concern. If Robinson is always fighting numbness in his hands or lack of motion in his elbow, he will have trouble playing any position on the offensive side of the ball. 

    That, or he'll have to go from right-hand dominant to left-hand dominant if he still isn't able to extend his fingers fully. Hopefully he gets full range and feeling back below his elbow, but the concern about his nerve damage will always be there.

DE Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky

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    Knee injuries for defensive linemen can be a death sentence to a long-term career. Just ask Peria Jerry of the Atlanta Falcons how an ACL changed his career during his rookie season. 

    Quanterus Smith was tied for the NCAA lead in sacks during his senior year at Western Kentucky before he went down with an ACL injury. Because of how late in the season he was injured, he could actually end up losing a good part of the 2013 NFL season to recovery.

    This could drop him in the draft. However, if a team is willing to do what the Patriots did with Jeff Demps this past season and stash him on the practice squad, it would not shock me to see Smith taken in the fifth or sixth round of the draft this year.

    The ACL issue will be a continual worry, as his knee will be much weaker the first couple of years. Nonetheless, it's one of the few injuries that is workable for a player of Smith's caliber.

OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia

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    Jarvis Jones was the best pass-rusher in the college football ranks this past season. However, he has a major issue of which teams will need to have complete clearance; otherwise, he'll fall quite a bit in the draft. That issue is spinal stenosis.

    Jones was diagnosed with it at Southern California and had to transfer to Georgia to play because of it (h/t ESPN). Spinal stenosis is defined as "narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings where spinal nerves leave the spinal column" (h/t U.S. National Library of Medicine).

    The biggest issue when it comes to playing football with spinal stenosis is the risk of permanent paralysis, or even death, if you get hit the wrong way. If a team feels that he is worth the risk, they will gladly take him.

    Hopefully, Jones never has to deal with any adverse effects from his condition and can play a 10-year career as a linebacker in the NFL with minimal problems. But the risk will always be there, and he needs to make sure he stays vigilant and careful about his condition.

RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

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    Marcus Lattimore is the belle of the ball when it comes to injury issues. He's had season-ending knee injuries in back-to-back years. The worst part about it is that they came on both knees and not just one.

    His gruesome dislocation versus the Tennessee Volunteers in October tore most of the ligaments in his right knee. The year before, he tore the ACL in his left knee. However, Lattimore thinks he'll be ready to go for the 2013 season. Marc Sessler of NFL.com quoted Lattimore about his injury:

    I believe in myself. Dr. (James) Andrews actually said, "You're going to shock the world," so I quoted him. And I really do believe I'll be ready. I'm going at a rate that I knew I could, and I feel great. When I start jogging and I get a little bit stronger, I know it's game on then.

    And if he does end up shocking the world and starting the 2013 season, the risk is still there. Surgically repaired knees aren't a great thing to start a career off with. If this ends up recurring in the NFL, Lattimore could have a short (albeit productive) career.

     

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.