- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Over the past few months, I spent a lot of time out at the Fired Football Coaches Association office in Tampa. That’s where Jon Gruden works and that’s where Gruden’s QB Camp was filmed.
My assignment was to help Gruden write scouting reports on all the players who were coming through and it was a blast. I learned a lot about X's and O's, especially when it comes to quarterbacks.
But one of the most memorable sessions was one for a guy who isn’t a quarterback. South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was the most intriguing guy (at least in my eyes) to come through the camp.
Lattimore’s coming off a major knee injury. You can read Gruden’s entire Insider scouting report here. But I learned to read Gruden a bit and I instantly could tell he thinks Lattimore can be a special player.
That got me thinking. The Atlanta Falcons are good for the moment at running back with Steven Jackson taking over for Michael Turner. But the Falcons have the luxury of having 11 picks in this draft. They also have the luxury of being a team that doesn’t have many holes.
They’re the type of team that can afford to take a shot on Lattimore somewhere in the middle rounds and bring him along slowly. Jackson’s not young and Lattimore could be his eventual replacement.
“I would think that putting him on the shelf for a year would be the way to go,’’ Gruden said. “It would be a luxury. It would be an expense. You've got to put him on injured reserve and you've got to pay his rookie contract. But he's 21 years old and he's only a true junior. So he's just a kid.
“You put this kid in the bullpen and get him with a great training staff and the right support system. He'll learn the offense and get himself ready to be a 22-year-old kid who comes back the next year, knowing the offense and has a big impact.’’