COLUMBIA — Marcus Lattimore expects to be among the most scrutinized players at the annual NFL draft combine, which gets under way this weekend in Indianapolis.
Doctors from most – or all – of the 32 franchises will surely swarm around his surgically repaired knees, examining every bone, muscle, ligament and nerve in microscopic detail.
When they do, what will they find? Lattimore is confident the doctors will be pleased with what they see from the charts and pictures.
“They’re going to be shocked,” Lattimore said on Monday on the “Inside the Roost” program on 107.5 The Game.
Lattimore has spent the last three months at a workout facility in Pensacola, Fla., (he left shortly after his press conference on Dec. 12 when he announced he would enter the NFL Draft) vigorously rehabbing his knee and preparing for the physically demanding life in the NFL.
“I feel great,” Lattimore said. “I’m progressing faster than I did last year (2011) and it was a much worse injury (than the first knee injury suffered at Mississippi State). I’m up here twice a day rehabbing Monday through Friday. I’m just trying to get better and trying to get ready for the season.”
Although the second knee injury was gruesome, Lattimore is thankful because it could have been much worse.
“(The doctors) that operated on me pointed out everything that could have happened that didn’t happen,” Lattimore said. “So, the rehab has pretty much been the same as an ACL. I’ll just probably have to wait a bit longer for contact, but as far as the timetable for running and agility and all that, it’s pretty much the same.”
What can Lattimore do right now? He said he is walking without a brace on his knee, running in the pool and jumping on land, agility drills and step-ups.
Running on land is the next huge step marking his progress.
“I’m doing everything movement-wise that I can except for running,” Lattimore said. “I’m going to start running right after we get back from the combine. That Monday (Feb. 25) is game on.”
Lattimore has been joined by a number of NFL players in his daily workouts – Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Jake Long (Dolphins), Thomas Howard (Bengals) and Terrell Thomas (Giants).
“All these guys are going through the same thing I’m going through,” Lattimore said. “They’re NFL veterans. Just being around them is humbling and is motivation knowing they’re going through it. There are so many guys I’ve learned from. They’re pushing me down here every day.”
Lattimore arrives in Indianapolis on Thursday and plans to participate in non-workout NFL combine activities through Sunday. He will undergo extensive team interviews, medical exams and psychological testing (Wonderlic, etc.) throughout his four days in the Midwest.
“The biggest parts of the combine are the medicals and the interviews, and that’s all I’ll be able to do up there,” Lattimore said. “I’ll get to meet with all the teams and go through all the MRIs and medical checks. I’ll get to see every doctor.
“My agent and I talked about it. He said pretty much everybody is going to want to look at my knee and see how it’s doing, so just be ready for that.”
Dr. James Andrews, a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon who helped perform the procedure on Lattimore’s knee in Birmingham in November, will attend the NFL combine and be at Lattimore’s side.
“He’ll probably be in the room with me everywhere I go because he did the surgery,” Lattimore said. “I’m not sure if Dr. (Jeff) Guy is coming or not. Everything should go great.”
Lattimore’s second day in Indianapolis will be filled with medical exams and media interviews. The third day will involve meetings with the NFL Players Association and undergoing psychological testing. Along with the notorious Wonderlic, a new test is being introduced this year – the NFL’s Player Assessment Tool.
League and team executives hope the new customized test will better assess and gauge a prospect’s ability to get along with teammates, arrive to meetings on time and his general effort level. In short, it will try to measure many of the intangibles that make a player great.
Lattimore is confident he will have no difficulty earning high marks in the testing.
“Just show them my personality,” Lattimore said of the testing. “I’m real excited to meet with all the teams. They really don’t know too much about me outside of the football. But it’s going to be great to go up there and meet with all those guys.
“I’m just going to try and score as high as I can on the Wonderlic test and shown them I’m football-smart and just doing everything I can to raise my draft stock.”
Lattimore has been practicing to take the Wonderlic in the important areas of verbal skills, math and analysis.
“It’s simple things, but you can easily get tripped up by it,” Lattimore said. “You only have 12 minutes to do 50 questions. You have to think fast. That’s the main thing they’re trying to look at.”
Lattimore traveled to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and the Super Bowl in New Orleans as part of his strategy to convince NFL team officials that he’s worth risking a high-round draft pick on. NFL Network draft analysts Mike Mayock said on Monday that Lattimore is projected as a third-round pick.
“It was very important. All the scouts, coaches and GMs were out there. I just wanted to go out there and show them I was walking and I’m fine,” Lattimore said. “I wanted to assure them everything is going to be OK and they can trust my doctors and agent and I’ll be ready to go. They just have to be patient with me.
“I plan on having a long career in the NFL.”