By Tom E. Curran
Heading into the NFL draft, Tom E. Curran plans a series of looks at potential Patriots draftees. Today's player: Mikel Leshoure.
Mikel Leshoure, Illinois
6-0, 227Running Back
The Skinny: The consensus best "big back" in the draft. Ran for 1,695 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2010, averaging 6 yards per carry. A legitimate pounder between the tackles who can handle a heavy workload, he's got good quickness and soft hands. according to Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki. He's the second-best running back on Wes Bunting's rankings over at National Football Post. Both analysts see him having feature back potential. He should be on the board well into Round 2.
Gotta Have Him: Leshoure is a bigger back than BenJarvus Green-Ellis who -- although he performed well in 2010 (1,008 yards) -- is going to need some help with carrying the load, especially since Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris are likely going to be let go in free agency. We discussed Alabama's Mark Ingram earlier and pointed out that the running-back position has become somewhat devalued. There may be reticence from a team like the Patriots to spend a first-rounder on Ingram, who will be the first back off the board. But the chance to take the guy who will complement Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead in terms of style in the second or even third round is intriguing. And that's Leshoure.
Don't Need Him: Nawrocki says that Leshoure is inconsistent in "down-to-down compete level." That's a strike against him (it should be pointed out that Bill Belichick has respect for the work done by the folks at Pro Football Weekly). Also, it's pointed out that Leshoure needs to work up a lather to reach maximum effectiveness. There aren't a lot of carries to go around in New England with Green-Ellis, Woodhead and a quarterback who throws 30-odd times a game.
Forecast: Leshoure will certainly be on the board for the Patriots at 28 and 33. He may also be there later in the second round at 60. If DL, OL and pass rusher are addressed by then, why not take a run at a player like Leshoure?
Pats Draftability (1-10): 7