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. Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Lattimore: Is the risk for the Green Bay Packers worth the reward?

Last Oct. 27, the nation cringed when they watched South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore suffer a severe knee injury that was thought at the time to be a possible career-ender. It was the second straight season that Lattimore suffered a season ending knee injury only adding to the intrigue when he performed at his pro day last week.

But the suspense all but ended last week when scouts from across the NFL broke into applause after his workout – a performance that some say may have lifted his draft status into the first round, certainly as high as the second or third round. But there are others who feel Lattimore may be more of a risk than reward.

The question for those who follow the Green Bay Packers is whether the team would be willing to take a chance on Lattimore – if they are indeed serious about taking a running back in the first or second rounds – maybe even the third round.

Lattimore, who is hoping to play in 2013, won’t be ready to play immediately as he continues his rehab. So, whichever team selects him will have to wait some time before he hits the field.

Could Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball be on the Packers’ list of running backs to consider in next month’s draft?
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

However, with other running backs, such as such as Alabama’s Eddie Lacy, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball or Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell may all be available in the first round should Thompson wish to improve his offensive backfield with a high running back pick.

When healthy, the 6-foot-1, 221-pound Lattimore was impressive on the field. As one of the most impressive running backs in the nation during his time at South Carolina, he rushed for 2,677 yards on 555 carries (4.8 avg.), which included him scoring 55 touchdowns in his three seasons.

The Packers may be leaning toward Lacy and Ball as safer picks, but Lattimore may bring a huge upside for the team that selects him in April’s draft.

Could that be the Packers? Ask Ted Thompson – he’s the only one who can answer that question.

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