Showcases impressive footwork and good short-area quickness when asked to side step a defender and make him miss or slip a tackle. Does a nice job dropping his pad level into contact, runs very hard delivering punishment into defenders and breaks his fair share of tackles. Displays a really good first step for his size, accelerating extremely well toward daylight and reaching top-end speed quickly. Lacks elite speed, but has good enough straight-line speed for his size and has the ability to consistently get and turn the corner.
Is a bit tight hipped when asked to quickly cut back against the grain and at times is forced to slow his feet and allows defenders to get into his frame and wrap. Isn't overly instinctive in space either and doesn't routinely see the cut back lane opening up from the backside. However, when asked to press daylight he does have the ability to make that one cut getting up the field — as opposed to laterally — and is violent once he gets into the second level. Is a bear to bring down in the open field and does a nice job finishing runs.
Is still developing as a pass blocker, but has good hands in the pass game. Looks natural catching the football out of the backfield, squaring his shoulders and getting north/south quickly. Has been very productive during his time at Illinois showcasing the ability to carry the load week in and week out.
Impression: A strong, physical Big Ten back who looks comfortable running in tight areas, breaking tackles and accelerating toward daylight. A potential featured back in my view."
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."
Field Vision: Does a good job of running behind his blockers, but he can get lost sometimes and miss cutbacks. Isn't always patient waiting for holes to open and will run up the backs of his blockers or miss hole completely trying to bounce outside.
Balance/Breaking Tackles: Keeps his legs moving through contact and breaks arm tackles with ease. Has a good center of gravity which makes it hard for solo tacklers to get him down on their own if they don't get leverage. He isn't a shifty back and won't make too many defenders miss in the back/open field unless he runs over them.
Pass Catching/Blocking: Is a surprisingly good pass catcher out of the backfield. He catches the ball away from his frame and catches it cleanly. Much like his running style, Mikel has a high stance when in pass pro. While he is a more than willing blocker, he was susceptible to bull and speed rushers. Still better than most running backs coming out.
Games Viewed: Michigan, Northwestern, Missouri, Baylor
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."
LeShoure could be a gem in the second round.
LeShoure doesn’t have a ton of starting experience with Illinois, but he has made a big impact in the time that he has spent on the field. He looks to become one of the first running backs drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.
LeShoure is a very powerful, downhill runner who doesn’t go down easily. He is aggressive when running between the tackles, and seems to run like it’s his last carry ever. LeShoure has good patience and above average vision. He waits for his blockers to set up and cuts off of them with ease. While he’s not the most agile back he can make defenders miss in the open field. His ability to catch well out of the backfield is improving as he has shown soft hands in 2010. He does a nice job of churning his legs through the defender and refuses to go down by the first touch.
He hasn’t produced much in the NCAA, having only fully started for one season. He could be a bit of a one year wonder. Sometimes he tends to run a bit high, and doesn’t charge into defenders with a low shoulder. His top end speed isn’t very good, although it’s not expected of a man that’s 230+ pounds. He lost around 15-20 pounds prior to his 2010 season, and may have character concerns as he was involved in fight with a teammate in 2009. LeShoure is just mediocre in pass protection and will need to work on that as well, if he plans to be an every down back in the NFL.
LeShoure has the talent to sneak into the first round, but teams are beginning the find legit running backs in the later rounds, and are less inclined to draft a running back early.
With that being said, it’s still very possible that a team like New Orleans, New England, Miami, or Kansas City looks to grab him in that 20-30 range. I think his value lies most with a team in the second round where he will find more value. Teams like Carolina, Denver, Arizona, and San Francisco will all give LeShoure a nice look in the early second round.
NFL Comparison: Beanie Wells"
Positive: Nice-sized interior ball carrier who shows the ability to pick up a lot of yardage off initial contact. Patiently waits for blocks to develop, displays a burst of speed and the ability to make defenders miss in a small area. Easily runs around tackle, keeps his feet moving on contact, and falls forward when tackled. Uses an effective straight arm to keep runs alive, displays solid football instincts, and slides through the small creases of the defense. Rarely brought down by a single defender. Is a solid receiver out of the backfield.
Negative: Loses a lot of momentum when he must quickly change direction. Not a creative ball carrier. Does not consistently run with an aggressive style. Effective when he gives effort blocking yet not consistent in that area. Cannot run to daylight in the open field. Has an upright running style that leads to a lot of heavy hits.
Analysis: Leshoure is a tough interior ball carrier who proved himself as a workhorse at the college level. He'll fit a variety of offenses at the next level, and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is an added benefit."
Put up big numbers against tough Big 10 defenses, has only one game this year with less than 75 rushing yards... Illinois has put some good running backs into the NFL recently (Pierre Thomas, Rashard Mendenhall)... One of the few backs in this class that has the potential to be a true workhorse... This is his first season as a starter so he will come to the NFL without much tread on his tires... A complete running back, isn't flashy, but is the type of player who can carry the ball a ton, and contribute on passing downs.
Negatives: Top-end speed is just average... Really has only had one great season thus far... Often tries to break the big play rather than settle for a short gain, is prone to some negative yardage plays... Broke his jaw in 2008 after an altercation with a teammate at Illinois... Conditioning was a concern in the past... Takes most of his handoffs out of the shotgun in Illinois spread option offense."
Strengths: The first, and most obvious strength of Leshoure is his size/speed combo. He's a bruiser at nearly 230, but he still possesses breakaway speed. He's not afraid to run between the tackles, and shows a good burst once he picks his lane. He has the ability to get skinny and can get to the second level quickly where he immediately becomes a size issue for smaller LBs and DBs. Is a tremendous one-cut runner who shows good vision to find the holes. He also can get to the edge and turn the corner. Doesn't lose much speed when cutting and can get to his top gear quickly. As a receiver, he displays soft hands and the ability to track the ball well. He's a willing blocker who can stone blitzers in pass pro.
Weaknesses: Really only has one year of big-time production, although he did it with a shaky O-line and a green QB. Needs to convince teams that he has matured (broke a jaw in a fight with a teammate in 2008, and was suspended the first game of 2009) and is going to be a hard-worker and good teammate. As a runner, needs to show a bit more patience to allow blocks to develop. He's always looking for the homerun instead of taking the sure gain. He's a larger back and needs to be more consistent in running with a lower pad level -- sometimes gets too high and takes big hits as a result.
Projection: Nearly all of the top junior RBs declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, making it a deep group. Leshoure could emerge as one of the top prospects because of his size/speed combo, his potential as an every down back, and his lack of wear. He should hear his name anywhere from the middle of the first to the middle of the second rounds."
LeShoure plays with a high-pad level and would be better suited getting his shoulders and frame lower and less upright. It could be a product of Illinois' average offensive line, but he sometimes tries to make things happen on his own without reading or following his blocks. This poor vision isn't something that can necessarily be coached but it can be improved via repetition and understanding of the play calls.
LeShoure is flying up draft boards but there are a lot of underclassmen running backs with a ton of talent.
He currently projects as a third to early fourth round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft with first to second round potential in 2012."
“The coaches told me it’s a definitely a decision to make, but right now the only thing to think about is finishing the season with this next game and the bowl game after that,” Leshoure said, via DailyIllini.com.
Illinois head coach Ron Zook admits the topic has been brought up and has advised LeShoure to be wary of NFL agents. “It’s a little different year for a lot of reasons. Obviously I don’t want to get into all that, but what’s going on in the NFL, it’s a little bit different,” Zook said. “I’ve talked to him about it a little bit. We will sit down and talk about it, but that’s the thing that everybody wants to talk about the future.”
The Champaign, IL native currently ranks as one of the top-five running backs eligible for the draft, according to the NFL Draft Bible. In terms of when an official decision could come, LeShoure seemed unsure.
“I haven’t quite sat down and weighed the pros and cons out yet, but getting my degree has always been something I’ve wanted to do, especially with my mother in the background preaching that.” Leshoure said. “I haven’t come to any conclusions or made any decisions.”"
Mikel LeShoure commands an exceptionally powerfull arsenal of weaponry: Excellent initial Burst, tremendous Patience + Vision, superior Navigational skills, and a strong Core that enables him to run with Balance and Torque. He can definitely Push the Pile.
He's not a very good Blocker, as yet, but he's an excellent Receiver.
In my efforts to organize RB's by their styles, I've invented the terms "Smashers", "Slashers", + "Thrashers" as what I hope will be easy references, respectively, to Power Backs, 3rd Down Backs, and Hybrids.
At his size, Mikel LeShoure is clearly a Smasher. But he's an exceptionally skilled Smasher.
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