RB(Illinois) - Round 2, Pick No. 57
When Kevin Smith was told he wouldn't be tendered a contract offer earlier this offseason, suddenly the Detroit Lions once again had a need at running back. Although they did just draft Jahvid Best in the first round last year and Maurice Morris played well at the end of last season, there was a need for added depth. That added depth came in the form of Illinois' Mikel Leshoure, who was drafted with the 57th pick after the Lions traded back into the second round.
Final word: Leshoure is the best of the big running backs (220+lbs) with the potential to be the lead back on a teams committee. There are some flags though, as 2010 was the first year since high school that Leshoure wasn't injured. He also gave up lots of carries to Daniel Dufrene and Jason Ford (another big back) over the last three years which indicates that he may be best suited for shared duties in the running game. He isn't elite at any one thing and will likely come off the board at some point in the second round.
With some improvements on third down, Leshoure has the size, athleticism and competitiveness to develop into an every-down back. Displays very good burst and quickness for a big back, can get the corner and make defenders miss, but does not have elite speed. Possesses the power to break tackles, push the pile and find the end zone near the goal line, but needs to do a better job of staying low. Has the size and mentality to become an effective pass blocker and the athleticism to turn into a weapon in the passing game but is currently raw in both areas. Leshoure is a second-round prospect.
What he brings: Leshoure is a bigger back who shows excellent lateral mobility and quick feet for his size. He flashes the ability to hit cutback lanes but is not naturally instinctive and leaves yards on the field at times. On the other hand, he is a workhorse back who did not put the ball on the ground even once in 461 career touches in college.
How he fits: What looked like a solid position entering the 2010 season had its challenges, as rookie Jahvid Best was slowed by a turf toe injury and Kevin Smith continues to stay hurt and probably won't be back. That leaves aging Maurice Morris as the only backup. The Lions wanted to find a big, power back who could help them finish games, and Leshoure should fit the bill perfectly.
2008: 35 carries, 126 yards, 1 touchdown, 6 catches, 66 yards, 0 fumbles
2009: 108 carries, 734 yards, 5 touchdowns, 14 catches, 177 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 fumbles
2010: 281 carries, 1697 yards, 17 touchdowns, 17 catches, 196 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 fumbles
- Lions fan announces pick of Mikel Leshoure
- Leshoure gets the call from the Lions
- Brian Billick's take on Leshoure
- First Draft: Mikel Leshoure
- 2011 Draft Profile: Mikel Leshoure
- 2011 combine workout: Mikel Leshoure
- Combine interview with Leshoure
- Mikel Leshoure Draft Profile (ProFootballWeekly)
- Leshoure gets a new ride
- Leshoure declares for the 2011 NFL Draft
- High school highlights of Leshoure
Outlook for 2011
Leshoure has been described as the perfect complement to Jahvid Best. It is expected that the two players will serve as the Lions' one-two punch at running back. These days in the NFL a lot of teams do running back by committee, and I'd expect to see something like that with Leshoure and Best. Both are talented and can be playmakers in the Lions' talent-filled offense, so expect Leshoure to step in and get a good deal of playing time early on.