Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina #21
Size/Athleticism: Fairly well built, but doesn’t have the size to be overpowering when running between the tackles. Athletic enough to make some guys miss up front, won’t elude many defensive backs in the open field.
Vision: Very decisive. He picks his hole and hits it with a burst. This approach leads to consistent positive gains, but he also misses out on some big plays. Too often the hole collapses immediately after he’s committed, which leads to a lot of one and two yard gains. With just a little more patience, he may be able to break off a few more big plays per game.
Power: An overrated aspect of his game. He’s been listed at 230 by some sources during his college career, but has never played like a back with that kind of size. He’s definitely strong enough to take a hit and can break some tackles, but he isn’t a between-the-tackles bulldozer. Runs a little too upright at times, especially when he’s turning upfield, which opens him up to some big hits (his injury history makes this more of a concern).
Speed/Agility: Gets up to full speed quickly. Not a home run hitter, but more than enough speed to turn the corner and get downfield. Very quick feet. Does exceptionally well fighting for extra yardage in tight spaces by slipping through holes you wouldn’t expect most backs of his size to find.
Passing Game: Reliable receiver out of the backfield. Played a significant role in South Carolina’s passing attack throughout his career.
Intangibles: Coaches praised his work ethic and determination to rehab from ACL injury.
Durability: Legitimate durability concerns due to multiple injuries throughout his career. Suffered season-ending knee injury in 2012 and will likely miss the majority, if not all, of the 2012 NFL season. Suffered a torn ACL in 2011 which ended his season and forced him to miss most of South Carolina’s offseason workouts. Missed one game (vs Vanderbilt) with an ankle injury in 2010. Suffered a concussion during 2010 bowl game and was removed from the game and taken to hospital. Given the way he plays the game as a downhill runner, these injuries are concerning.
Comments: When healthy, Lattimore is the clear-cut top running back in this draft class. However, he isn’t in the same class as a guy like Trent Richardson and does have some obvious flaws in his game. To reach his full potential, Lattimore needs to decide what type of runner he wants to be. At this stage, he’s a ‘tweener stuck between a downhill runner and guy that likes to consistently bounce it outside. He has the skills to be either, but he may need to either bulk up or slim down to truly excel at the next level as either guy. Based purely on talent, Lattimore is an obvious first-round talent. However, his long history of injuries have put his NFL career in jeopardy. At this point, there is no guarantee that Lattimore will ever return the level he once demonstrated at South Carolina and even if he does, injuries will almost certainly cut his career short.