Kiper, Jr.: Lattimore is the only elite back in the draft - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Kiper, Jr.: Lattimore is the only elite back in the draft

Marcus Lattimore scores a touchdown Marcus Lattimore scores a touchdown

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore is the only elite back in the 2013 draft, but because of his knee injury he's a wild card, said ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. on Tuesday.

Kiper, Jr., who has served as ESPN's draft analyst since 1984, said Lattimore's apparent decision to enter the 2013 NFL Draft makes sense because of the junior's current medical situation.

"He's had multiple injuries now in two successive years," said Kiper, Jr. "You can't afford a third. He probably figures now is the time to go into the NFL. He's already shown when he's healthy he's a great college back. There's nothing more he can do."

ESPN's Joe Schad and the Associated Press reported Monday that the state's 2010 Mr. Football has chosen to try his luck with the NFL instead of return to the Gamecocks. In the days after his horrific knee injury against Tennessee, Lattimore indicated his intention was to play at least one more season for the University of South Carolina.

"To go back and risk another injury at South Carolina doesn't really make a whole lot of sense when you think about it," Kiper Jr. said.

Kiper, Jr. said there are not a lot of teams looking for running backs this year, but he wasn't comfortable projecting the round in which Lattimore might be taken.

Lattimore's official announcement is expected later this week.

Kiper, Jr. said if Jadeveon Clowney was eligible for the NFL Draft this year he would be the number one overall draft pick. Clowney has already said he will only play one more season for the Gamecocks.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.

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