One of the more intriguing players in the upcoming draft is South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore. Coming out of high school, he was rated as the top RB prospect in the country. The talent caught the eye of guy who happens to be the current Eagles coach.
"I love that kid," said Chip Kelly. "I recruited him so hard at Oregon, as much because of his character as his ability."
If Kelly wants Lattimore this time, he won't have to compete with the likes of Steve Spurrier to get him. He'll just have to hand his name in on draft day. Will he?
Kelly already had Lattimore in Philadelphia on March 14th for a visit. But since he already knows Marcus, the main point of it was likely medical... because therein lies the problem with Lattimore. He's arguably the best back in the country in talent alone, but two major knee injuries (one in each knee) have seriously dented not only his draft stock, but chances at an NFL career.
That said, Lattimore is doing everything he can to get back. Much like Adrian Peterson did when he blew out his knee, he's spent his time rehabbing with Dr James Andrews. In fact, the miraculous recovery Peterson made last year after tearing his ACL & MCL is part of what has scouts so interested in Lattimore.
But just because one guy pulled off a miracle, doesn't mean they all will.
"There is no doubt that the AP story creates more confidence in Lattimore's situation," an NFL scout told ESPN. "It is such an inspiring thing to watch, just like Peterson. But what I have to remind my people on draft day is that the Peterson story is special because it's one in a million. Until Marcus is running real football drills, there's no way of knowing if he's going to be two in a million."
Dr Andrews says that it's no fluke that injury recoveries are becoming more common.
"We are better as doctors. The bodies we work on are better now. Through genetics and nutrition, today's athletes are built to recover. "
However, he admitted that Peterson's recovery wasn't simply because he worked so hard. His injury was conducive to a recovery.
"I am proud of what we did with Adrian, but I've also never seen a knee that clean before we'd even touched it. It looked like a newborn's knee, not someone who had been playing football his whole life."
So if Lattimore is on the board in say, the 6th round, is he worth taking a flyer on? The talent is first round quality, but at this point he's also very much a blind guess. Teams won't have seen whether he can actually play again before drafting.
For more on Lattimore's story check out this ESPN piece.