Mikel LeShoure

Dolphins meeting with five running backs

With both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams set to be come free agents, it’s no surprise that the Miami Dolphins are doing their homework on the running backs in this year’s draft class.

According to various reports, the Dolphins are meeting with (or already have met with) Mario Fanin, Mark Ingram, Mikel Leshoure, Bilal Powell and Ryan Williams.

Ingram has been a popular pick for the Dolphins in mock drafts through the offseason (including my own) but LeShoure could be an option in the 1st round as well.

Personally, I like Leshoure more than Ingram. Leshoure is a better all-around athlete and I think he’s better suited to carry the load in the NFL. Ingram can be successful but he’ll be better off in a two-back system, which the Dolphins may not have in 2011.

The other three running backs getting a look from the Dolphins – Williams, Fanin and Powell – will likely be considered in the later rounds.

The Dolphins don’t own a 2nd-round pick, which means they’ll probably need to trade up to land Williams, who is likely to come off the board within the first 50 picks.

Fanin and Powell, however, should fall to the 3rd round or beyond and could be late-round options. It’s possible that the Dolphins would draft Ingram or Leshoure in the 1st round and still select a player like Fanin or Powell later in the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Dolphins Comments Off

Bengals targeting a RB in the draft?

I’m still shocked that Jay Gruden – with nothing more than a part-time gig under his brother in Tampa on his NFL résumé – is the offensive coordinator of the Bengals. But there was a press conference yesterday, so I guess its really happening.

The biggest news from the conference was that Gruden will install a west coast offense. He also stressed running the ball:

We have to run the ball between the tackles. We have to be a physical team up front. We’re going to challenge our offensive line to be physical… I intend on pounding the ball.”

Those are interesting comments considering the Bengals ran the ball almost exclusively with Cedric Benson in 2010, who is now a 28-year-old free agent coming off a disappointing year.

This past year Benson carried the ball 321 times, becoming the 36th running back over the age of 27 with at least 300 carries in a season over the past two decades. Of the previous 35, only 13 times [by eight different RBs] has that player carried the ball at least 200 times while averaging at least 4.0 yards per attempt the following year – Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Curtis Martin, Tiki Barber, Ricky Watters, Thomas Jones, Jerome Bettis and Priest Holmes.

Even on his best day, Benson doesn’t compare anyone in that group. More than likely he goes the route of some of the other names on the list such as Lamar Smith, James Stewart, Terry Allen and Anthony Johnson.

With that in mind, the Bengals would be wise to target a running back in this year’s draft and Gruden’s comments lead me to believe they could already be considering their options.

There isn’t a running back worthy of a top-10 pick, although I wouldn’t put it past the Bengals front office (a.k.a. Mike Brown) to take Mark Ingram 4th overall.

However, it’s more likely they address this situation in the early 2nd round. It’s possible that Mikel LeShoure could fall to the 2nd day of the draft. LeShoure is a powerful between-the-tackles runner who would seem to fit perfectly into Gruden’s game plan.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Bengals Comments Off

Mikel LeShoure Scouting Report

Mikel LeShoure RB Illinois #5

Ht: 6’0

Wt: 230

Strengths:
Powerful downhill runner. Big strong legs; able to push to pile. Breaks through arm tackles with ease. Gets up to full speed quickly. Hits the hole with a powerful burst. Decent speed for his size.
Weaknesses:
Not very elusive; he’ll run over people, but he won’t make them miss in the open field. Doesn’t appear to have great vision; runs full speed ahead whether the hole is there or not. Limited experience as a receiver out of the backfield. Already comes with a decent amount of wear and tear; averaged 22.9 touches per game in 2010. Legitimate character concerns. Missed time in 2008 after breaking his jaw in a fight with a teammate. Suspended in 2009 for violating team rules.
Comments:
LeShoure is essentially Rashard Mendenhall 2.0. Like Mendenhall he burst onto the scene with a monster junior year and immediately turned pro. LeShoure’s season was even more impressive than Mendenhall’s due to the fact that he was really the only offensive weapon for the Illini. Defenses knew what was coming and he still averaged over six yards per carry. He lacks the agility and elusiveness to be considered an elite prospect, but is definitely starter material. He should be a productive NFL running back from day one, especially if he shares the workload with a smaller, faster running mate.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2011 1 Comment