Many consider Mikel Leshoure to be the back with the least amount of question marks coming into the draft and maybe the only back capable of carrying the entire rushing load for a team. Mikel had a breakout season in 2010 rushing for 1697 yards and 20 touchdowns seeming to only get stronger as the year went on. He had his best rushing performances in November when he went for 330 yards and 2 touchdowns against Northwestern and in the Texas Bowl taking home MVP honors and rushing for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns. At 5’115/8, 227 pounds Leshoure possesses terrific size, is wide hipped and thick throughout his frame. He shows superior strength in his lower half possessing both the ability to run defenders over and the ability to avoid defenders exhibiting very good elusiveness for his size. In addition, Mikel showcases the ability to press the line of scrimmage quickly demonstrating a very good burst through the hole and good stopping and starting ability. Leshoure displays quick feet and good agility for his size but does lack some lateral cutback ability when going sideline to side line. As well, Leshoure is not considered much of a home run threat lacking elite straight line speed and elite instincts as he at times fails to recognize the proper hole or cutback lane. While Leshoure has 1st round skills and talent he will likely not go until the first part of the second round due to the continuing devaluation of the running back position over the last several years.
Leshoure is a strong inside runner who is at his best as a one cut runner. At times Leshoure will run a little upright but he shows the ability to bend well, lower his pads and limit the areas defenders have to hit. He can run through arm tackles and is wide hipped making it difficult for defenders to wrap him up enabling him to gain a large portion of his yards after contact. He displays good short area quickness and some elusiveness in tight spaces allowing him to make the first guy miss most of the time. He also shows good patience allowing the time for his blocks to be setup.
Mikel is also a very good runner in space displaying a good amount of wiggle for his size, possessing the ability making a defender miss or the ability to power through opponents. He is a load to bring down in the open field and while not a burner he has enough speed and acceleration to reach the edge where he can punish smaller defenders.
While not a gifted receiver Leshoure shows enough potential that he will be able to get the job done at the next level. Consistency and at times letting the ball hit his body at times rather than plucking the ball out of the air are his biggest issues. On screen plays he shows discipline in allowing the play to develop and runs well behind his blocks. As a route runner he still rounds off his routes too often and is not tight enough in and out of his breaks but he does set up his routes nicely possessing a second gear once he catches the ball.
Demonstrating excellent ball security Leshoure did not fumble once during his college career and does an excellent job of holding the ball tight against his frame.
Vision, Instincts & Awareness
While not elite in any one of these areas, Leshoure sees the field well and shows a good feel of where defenders are coming from. At times though Leshoure still lacks the ability to recognize cutback lanes and may chose the wrong hole to run through. He is also indecisive at times stopping his feet, taking too long for a play to develop and getting caught in the backfield losing yards.
In tight areas he demonstrates a powerful lower body displaying the ability to beak arm tackles and possessing enough short area quickness to make defenders miss in the hole. In the open field he does provide some shiftiness but he is more of a guy that will try and run through defenders and is a load to bring down. He showcases a good stiff arm as well.
Pass blocking is the area of Leshoure’s game that likely needs the most refining as he displays the desire to be a good pass blocker but still lacks the technique to be consistent at it. He exhibits the ability to provide a good pop on contact and is not afraid to take on a blitzer but he will whiff at times, get off balanced and not anchor his base. He also lacks the awareness and instincts to recognize where the rush is always coming from.
Leshoure exhibits a strong and powerful leg drive, demonstrating the ability to move the pile and consistently get those tough yards in short down and distance situations. He also has a nose for the end zone scoring many of his touchdowns on goal line short yardage situations.
Size, Speed, Strength & Agility
Mikel has an elite combination of size speed and strength, reminding me of a poor man’s Steven Jackson. At 6’0 he is slightly taller than a prototypical back but shows the ability to bend and good agility for his size. He ran a 4.56 at the combine which is about how fast he appears on film, and is a guy that will break 30-40 yard runs on a consistent basis. Leshoure also benched 21 reps at the combine showing that his upper body strength is definitely not a weakness either.
Durability is not an issue with Leshoure as he had 281 rushes his junior year and seemed to only get stronger as the year went on. In addition he is a very young running back in terms of college carries with only 424 total rushes his entire college career, so he comes into the NFL very fresh without any injury concerns.
In 2008 Leshoure had a run-in with a teammate which left him with a broken jaw and in 2009 he was suspending for 1 game for an undisclosed violation of team rules. He has not had any incidents since 2009 and from all accounts appears to have matured. Of any RB Leshoure projects the most as a 3 down workhorse back capable of carrying the entire load at running back for a team that has become so uncommon in today’s NFL. He has the skills and the talent to be a pro bowl caliber player but like most running backs it will depend on the team philosophy and scheme that he is drafted into that will determine a good portion of his success.
Majored in Communications.
2010: 11 games played, 11 starts
2009: 11 games played, 3 starts
2008: 9 games played, 1 starts
Awards & Honors
2010: 1st Team All-Big Ten
Prospect Video Clips
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