In the aftermath of the NFL Draft, a handful of prognosticators have released 2013 mocks. Of course, mocking a draft a year out is always a dicey affair, as we recently learned via one of our own. However, we're sports fans, and we tend to obsess over these things.
Our own Marcus Lattimore is featured among the top picks in most of these mocks, usually the first RB off the board. This mock has him going 13th to the Cincinnati Bengals, and it had this to say about him:
I can't believe the best running back the Bengals came out with in the 2012 NFL Draft was Dan Herron. I can't imagine that Herron and BenJarvus Green-Ellis will give opposing defensive coordinators sleepless nights.
Cincinnati will be all over Marcus Lattimore if the team can get him next April.
Some of the others I've seen also have him going to Cinci; the missing link in the Bengals offense is the runningback, and a lot of people were surprised that they didn't take one this past go around.
There are a couple of questions with Lattimore and the NFL, of course. First of all, he has to prove that he can come back from his knee injury. Based on current film, he looks like a prototype NFL back; he's fast enough, big enough, explosive enough, smart enough, etc. He even catches the ball more or less as well as a wide receiver. However, if he comes back a step slow or without some of his agility, his stock may drop, even if it's fair to say that another year of rehab would almost certainly have him back to normal. There's also the possibility that a couple of other RBs will emerge who don't have the same issues.
The other issue is whether he declares or not. That could have a lot to do with what kind of season he has. If he has a good one, he'll have a tough decision to make. He's hinted before that he might consider staying all four years, but one has to wonder if he'll be willing to make that decision when the time comes. Having endured his fair share of injuries, you have to think he knows what he'd be risking, and the risks are particularly compelling to RBs, who tend to get hurt a good bit and who have a limited shelf life in the league. I would never begrudge a potential first-round pick who left early, but that would be particularly true with Lattimore, who has earned the right to do just about whatever he wants. The guy has just given so much to the program.
Other than Lattimore, I haven't seen any other Gamecocks in the first-round mocks. The other guy to watch out for, though, is Devin Taylor. Taylor was considered a potential early-departure first-rounder going into 2011, but a somewhat statistically underwhelming season caused his stock to drop a bit, and he decided to stay for his senior season. (Wise choice, Devin.) However, a lot of Devin's drop-off in production owed to him getting a lot of attention from opposing blocking schemes, and that focus may shift to Jadeveon Clowney this year. That's going to open things up for Taylor, who may be prepped for his best season yet. With guys like LSU's Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo among the likely early DE draftees, it may be hard for Taylor to move too far up the board, but I could definitely see him going in the first if he has a really great year. Everything is there that a team could want.
Past Taylor, I don't see any other likely 2013 first-rounders on our roster. DeVonte Holloman and D.J. Swearinger jump out as fairly likely mid- to late-round picks, and then there are a few other guys who might stand to do the same. However, I'm not sure how confident I am that we'll have six taken again. What do you guys think?