Lions Select Mikel LeShoure RB From Illinois 57th Overall

The Lions have traded up in the second round to get RB Michael LeShoure from Illinois. The Lions gave up their 3rd and 4th round pick from this year to get LeShoure.

Leshoure enrolled at the University of Illinois — a minutes-long commute from his home near Champaign Centennial High School — in January 2008 without taking a visit to any other university, and attended his first class just weeks after his record-breaking high school career ended.Eager to get on the field knowing he was clearly in a jumbled group of youngsters vying to back up Rashard Mendenhall (23rd overall pick, Steelers, 2008), Leshoure was 35 carries into his freshman season when he suffered a broken jaw courtesy of a punch from teammate Jeff Cumberland.”I’ve matured a lot,” Leshoure said at the combine, a notion supported by Illinois’ coaching staff and Ron Zook.When he finally ascended to a starting role, Leshoure broke the school single-season rushing record with 1,697 yards and 20 total touchdowns as a junior all-Big Ten running back in 2010. He was the workhorse for a 7-6 Illinois team that won its first bowl game since 1999, rushing for 187 yards and three touchdowns as the Texas Bowl MVP in December.But Leshoure was just as eager to get to the NFL, where he’ll follow in Mendenhall’s and Pierre Thomas’ footsteps but also fulfill a dream.”I believe I have accomplished everything I can at the college level and want to go after my dream: playing in the NFL,” Leshoure said.

It wasn’t anything near certain that Leshoure would become “the guy” for the Illini until fall camp last year. He’s worked hard to, in his own words, “keep growing” since he was born in prison and spent all but four years of his life without his father, who also spent time in prison.

“It was just me and my mother,” he said. “I’m an only child, so it was just me and her. I learned a lot from that. I learned from an early age that I have to be the man of the house and take care of my mother and myself and it taught me a lot of responsibility and it made me the man I am today.”

Leshoure doesn’t have Mendenhall’s straight-line speed but has some burst to and through the line of scrimmage and can get the corner on outside runs. His forte is breaking tackles and using his low center of gravity to roll through defenders. ranks Leshoure as a close second to Alabama’s Mark Ingram at the position, but some teams could be concerned about Ingram’s mileage and the condition of his knee. Sources recently suggested to’s Rob Rang that Ingram, widely considered a top 20 overall prospect, could drift to the bottom of the first round or into the second.

If so, Leshoure could be there to carry the flag for the position.

“I definitely think I can be the No. 1 back taken,” said Leshoure. “That’s my goal. Everyone has their own opinion. You hear a lot of different stuff and see a lot of different things on T.V. But with my versatility and the things I can bring to the table, it will show a lot of scouts and GMs that I can be their guy.”

Even if he’s not the first back off the board, Leshoure could impact the game as a runner and receiver as the back he models himself after, Steven Jackson of the Rams, has since being drafted 24th overall in 2004. Jackson had better timed speed (4.45 in 2004) and is almost two inches taller, but their style of play is similar.

“He’s a big guy but he’s very versatile,” Leshoure said. “He shows good hands and he shows toughness and he plays through injuries, and I feel like I can do all of those things and hopefully he’ll have a career like he has so far.”

Inside running: Powerful back, gets behind his pads when running inside. Runs with lean, and has a small strike zone for which opponents to get a square hit. Good vision to cut away from traffic, very smooth in his cuts. Keeps legs moving after initial contact. Can jump over piles near the line. If the line provides a big hole, he has an elite burst to hit second level at full speed. Excellent ball security, keeps it high and tight. Must avoid stopping to run outside when defenders penetrate, instead taking the couple of yards behind his line. Usually uses his fullback when in the I-formation, but must trust him in short yardage situations. Sells fake handoffs.Outside running: Thick upper- and lower-body build but he has the vision and quick feet to bounce outside as if he were a smaller back. Exceptional burst makes him capable of turning the corner to break off chunks of yardage. Has patience and vision to take a pitch and find a cutback lane and explode through it. Keeps his pad level low outside, which combined with a low center of gravity and strong legs, make him tough to tackle. Not afraid to push a pile or carry a defender a few yards after initial contact. Does not go out of bounds right away, willing to lower a shoulder to get a couple of extra yards.Breaking tackles: Very strong runner who is difficult for one defender to bring down. Effective stiff-arm, especially against oncoming defensive backs. Runs over would-be tacklers in the open field due to his strength and forward lean. Can sidestep in the backfield, though he’s best as a north-south runner. Lacks great elusiveness in short areas, but can juke a lesser defender in the open if he has some space.Blocking: Willing blocker who plays with better attitude than technique. Thick and strong, should be effective in blitz pick-up with some coaching, making him a three-down back. Provides a pop when giving linemen help inside.Receiving: Bigger than a typical college receiving back, but is reliable enough to be lined up outside to create positive matchups. Runs inside and outside routes fairly well, but needs to make hard cuts consistently instead of rounding off. Can make a quick cut to avoid a defender or run over a cornerback. Catches the ball with his body on non-swing passes, but has some ability to adjust to wide passes.Intangibles: Suspended for September 2009 matchup against Illinois State for violating team rules. Suffered broken jaw in 2008, losing 17 pounds, reportedly during a fight with teammate Jeff Cumberland. Looks to have matured, however, changing eating habits and putting in weight room work to be lighter and stronger for the 2010 season.

Compares to: Ryan Mathews, Chargers — Mathews had a stellar junior season but didn’t stand out in San Diego, battling ankle problems until late in the season. Leshoure has the same combination of open-field burst and power, with a chance to be an impact rookie. for more

  • jake

    Wow again another pick back to back fails. When will we go defense. We have jahvid best deangelo williams is a fa we need defense millen era is back maybe? Cbs and lbs must just not be a need in the lions eyes but seriously that’s what we need…

    • Andrew M

      we did go with defense with Nick Fairley, all the good CB’s and OLB’s were taken, Best isn’t a a goal line or first and second down back, he can’t rush up the middle, this guy is beast we’re going to have a good backfield with the two of them, our defense is much better with that front 4 it’s self, i’m sure we’ll make moves in the off season for CB

    • Gordie

      Best proved he had trouble carrying the load last year. LeShoure is a big back and some have him rated higher than Mark Ingram. Mayhew has been true to his “best player available” picks. You don’t draft a player just because he might fill a “need” position.

  • Stan in Walled Lake

    I like it. Get a CB and an OLB thru free agency. LeShoure and Best might give the Lions a one-two punch similar to that in New Orleans. And LeShoure can pick up the blitz and give Stafford the extra protection he needs to stay intact and throw down field. Not sure I love the pick of the Boise State wide receiver, but if he turns out to be another DeSean Jackson, then the Lions will have an unstoppable offense to go with their dominant defensive line.

  • danno

    I agree! I was all on board with the Fairley pick, but what the hell are they thinking on those last two picks.Thought Matt Millan was back at the helm, Shame Shame Shame on them. We needed DB and OLB OT…….and so on, and these guys gave up two extra picks to boot. Well! I just hope they address the other needs in FA,and trades. Just hope are GM remembers where he’s at tommrow,instend of have Matt Millan flash backs.

    • Rodney

      There aren’t any quality CB and OLB’s to make an impact. Always draft best talent available in draft. If there are 2 quality players and one of them is a need, then do the obvious and take the need. But never keep your franchise in a hole by picking a need that doesn’t spell talent. Look at the thrend since Swartz has been here. It’s looking pretty solid. Especially since we finished our season off with 4 straight wins with promise!!!! Don’t panic, I remember this happening to Tampa Bay. Only they never had a real QB. Let’s hope our show up this year!

    • FJ

      I think that was the weirdest part is that the Lions traded up to get the RB. I can find a way to rationalize the WR and RB picks, but to lose out on a couple of players that can be impact players on defense may be tough to overcome.

  • jake

    I agree with not always going with need but we gave up 2 picks for this guy who I think will be good I’m glad to see a power back in our backfield who won’t shy away from contact but I think we should have used our picks and filled spots we needed in 3rd and 4th round. I’d love to see nhamdi or ruud from tampa to fill a lb spot. But there are backs in this free agent group such as deanglo williams who is proven with power and speed just don’t see the sense in the last 2 picks but hopefully they pan out

  • Stan in Walled Lake

    Truth be told, the Lions only gave up one pick to get LeShoure. The picked up the used their third and fourth picks to get the Seahawks’ second rounder, and flipped picks with the Seahawks in the fifth and seventh rounds. So, essentially, LeShoure cost the Lions a fourth round pick. I like fourth round picks and I wish we had one, but LeShoure is comparable to Mark Ingram and could add a whole new wrinkle to our poor running game. What’s more, like I wrote earlier, LeShoure can pick up the blitz and keep Stafford on the field where he could blossom into a Pro Bowler as soon as this year.

  • jake

    True well I’m hoping for big things in this offseason with free agency and I’m hoping our offense stays healthy and we continue where we left off and these two picks work out. cause there’s plenty of talent on the fa market that the lions hopefully get one or 2 key players that make an impact this year go lions!

  • Matt

    I hope the lions have a good off seasons. Because they’re not addressing their needs at all! I would like their picks a lot better if I knew got in free agency.

  • brent

    I love the lashoure pick. He will be best rb since barry to don a lions uniform and we only gave up a 4th round pick to get 1 st round talent. Great move

  • HooDatIS?


  • Stoney And Bill With Lions 2nd Round Pick Mikel Leshoure « CBS Detroit

    […] and Bill had a chance to chat with one of the newest Lions Mikel Leshoure. Listen below as Leshoure talks about coming to Detroit. Print Share […]

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