Will Carroll is taking a look at the top draft picks in the 2013 NFL draft with any medical questions. Carroll takes a look at the full spectrum of info, including injury history and exclusive medical insight from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a medical consultant to many pro teams and the current L.A. Dodgers team physician.
Marcus Lattimore, 5'11", 221 pounds, Running Back from South Carolina
Lattimore's injury history is significant and must be separated from the heartwarming comeback story. Lattimore injured his ACL in 2011 and had a normal reconstruction. After an extensive rehab, he was able to return for the 2012 season and was establishing himself as a top running back prospect once again. His knee was injured in a devastating trauma, causing a multiple-structure knee injury. While details are mixed, it is possible that Lattimore sprained all four structural knee ligaments.
Lattimore went back to Dr. James Andrews for surgery. His ACL, PCL and LCL were repaired, and there was additional repair and cleanup inside the knee. Because of repeated trauma to the knee, there is significant concern about whether Lattimore will wear down more quickly. There are images of the inside of the knee from his surgery that have been checked closely by teams.
Lattimore could not participate in either the NFL Scouting Combine or his pro day in normal fashion. Lattimore was checked at the combine and re-checked in early April. Lattimore is running and can do some exercises, but he is not yet ready to perform any of the normal physical tests.
Lattimore did interview well and gave teams reason to believe that he could be ready to play in the '13 season. His story, as well as his potential, is giving teams reason to look closely at him. Notably, he weighed in at nearly the same size as Eddie Lacy, a player he was compared to pre-injury. Also, seeing Lattimore in person helped some scouts really dream on his potential.
"A multi-ligament issue like this is going to get a lot of attention, and it has. The schedule is going to be less of a concern for the doctor than it is for the coach. At this point in the rehab, there should be enough to get a good read on where he is and where he should get. Knowing the doctor is certainly a plus here. This one comes down to value, and the team doctor for these teams is going to give the decision-makers a very solid grade on what he believes the risks are for this player. They'll be the one deciding what the value is based on that advice." —Dr. Neal ElAttrache
Lattimore's impressive performances and rapid progress, as well as the gold star from Dr. Andrews have given him a lot of push. While many, including B/R's Matt Miller, had Lattimore in the late third or early fourth round, there's a game of chicken developing between teams that like him. There are several teams that will be worried that if they don't use their pick, he won't get back to them.
Much of the focus on the team that would pick Lattimore has been pointed at the San Francisco 49ers. Peter King pegged it early (h/t Fantasy SP) at a combine event, saying that the sheer number of picks the 49ers carry into this year's draft make it easier for them to use a pick on Lattimore. Lattimore also has been advised by Frank Gore, the 49ers running back, who has dealt with multiple knee injuries of his own.
Lattimore is ahead of schedule in his rehab, which is giving some teams hope that he will not need a "redshirt year." The comparisons to Willis McGahee are easy and apt, making many teams wonder just how to value this player and how to get him at their value.
Once healed from the surgery, Lattimore has the same kind of prognosis as McGahee, Gore and even Robert Griffin III. He should have no major issues, even if he is not the same as he was before his first or second knee surgery. Ninety percent of Lattimore is at worst a good backup in the NFL with a feel-good story attached and enough upside to make the risk worthwhile. A team with a good medical staff and a solid RB1 would be a perfect fit, such as San Francisco, Minnesota or Denver.
These reports were compiled from various cited sources. All draft data courtesy NFL.com. Inside Look is exclusive to B/R from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic and former team physician for the Los Angeles Rams. Dr. ElAttrache helps give insight into what the team doctors for NFL teams will be looking for in this type of player with injury concerns.
Will Carroll is the Lead Writer for Sports Medicine at Bleacher Report.