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Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick in 2011: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

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Jonathan Bales

It seems to be a foregone conclusion that either Marion Barber or Tashard Choice will be out of Dallas in 2011.  In my view, the decision is an easy one.  Barber has lost all explosion and, outside of being good in pass protection, offers nothing of substantial value to the offense.  I gave him a 71.3 percent in my 2010 Running Back Grades.

Either way, the Cowboys will obviously need to find a viable third running back (or second running back if Barber remains on the roster) behind Felix Jones.  The current problem is that, if Jones goes down to injury, the Cowboys will be left with very little play-making ability in the backfield.  I think Choice is a good player, but he isn’t going to take a swing pass 80 yards to the house like Jones.  The same is even more true of Barber.

Thus, it would behoove the ‘Boys to find a versatile running back who offers some explosion out of the backfield.  Today’s feature, while perhaps too expensive for Dallas, would certainly bolster the rushing attack.

Scouting Report

I actually was unaware of Mikel Leshoure’s size before I began watching film on him.  From the tape, I thought I was watching a 205-pound player.  He possesses excellent quick-twitch ability and above-average speed.  You can see Leshoure’s home run ability at the 1:18 and 3:31 marks in the video below.

The truth is Leshoure is 6’1”, 230 pounds.  The guy is a monster, displaying an incredible combination of size and speed.  He doesn’t go down on first contact and his legs never stop churning.  When combined with his ability to make very quick cuts, Leshoure should be an excellent short-yardage back in the NFL.  It’s also noteworthy that Leshoure is a “small-stepper.”  He takes very small, choppy steps, particularly in traffic, which allows him to cut on a dime (as evidenced by his move at the 1:37 mark below).

Despite hauling in only 14 receptions last season, Leshoure also seems to be a natural pass-catcher.  At times, he looks like a wide receiver.  You can see his pass-catching ability and explosion at the 1:01 mark below, and his sideline awareness and hands at the 4:13 mark (even though he ends up out of bounds).

The knocks on Leshoure are that he was a dominating college running back for only one season and he ran a ton of plays from spread formations.  I think both concerns are unjustified.  Leshoure averaged 6.8 yards-per-carry on 100+ carries two years ago, and I’m not sure his experience in the spread is a negative anymore.  The Cowboys seem to use more and more Shotgun every season, and while they don’t run read-option, there are still plenty of ways to get Leshoure the ball besides straight handoffs out of I-formation.

Leshoure averaged a ridiculous 183.4 yards and 2.6 touchdowns over his final five games in 2010.  And for the record. . .I will have Leshoure rated ahead of Mark Ingram.

Projection

The problem for Dallas is that Leshoure is a potential first-round draft pick.  That makes the odds of him landing in Big D very, very slim.  Even in the second-round, Leshoure may not be a legitimate option due to the abundance of holes at other positions.

For that reason, I wouldn’t be thrilled with seeing Leshoure get drafted by the Cowboys.  Even though I love the kid and think he’d be great value in the second-round, drafting isn’t all about value (contrary to popular belief).  Needs are also a factor, and running back isn’t an area of incredible concern right now for Dallas.

Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara

Cal DT/DE Cameron Jordan

UNC DE/OLB Robert Quinn

Ohio State DT/DE Cameron Heyward

Colorado OT Nate Solder

Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi

Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn

USC OT Tyron Smith

Miami CB Brandon Harris

LSU CB Patrick Peterson

UCLA FS Rahim Moore

Baylor NT Phil Taylor

Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple

Corey Liuget, DT/DE, Illinois

Martez Wilson, ILB/OLB, Illinois

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18 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick in 2011: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

  1. john coleman says:

    Excellent work. It’s a shame that we have failed to make moves in the last couple of years and hamstrung ourself. As you stated the value is best available at a position we have a hole at. Simply put, if we had filled our holes we could take a guy like LeShoure.

    People can say what they will, but the majority of the current talent base was drafted while big Bill was still in town. If we had continued and followed suit with three more good drafts(under Wade) we would be set. We can’t really even argue if you look at the number of misses in the last three years. Who’s left from 09? I think Butler, B.Williams, and Brewster. Now 2010 still has some hope because we have seen nothing of Lissemore and Ansah. Also Dez and Sean Lee will be better with an injury free camp. Throw in McCann, Church, and McCray and that comes to 7 total players. The after draft FA signings are IMO an extension of the draft.

  2. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Nice analysis – just wish we could get this guy in the 4th but he’ll be long gone before then.

    I think one thing we as fans need to realize is that Dallas is a LONG way from a Superbowl appearance. There are easily 10-13 players that should be or need to be replaced in the next couple of years (Newman, Davis, Barber, Columbo, Olshanksy, Brooking, Barron, Ball, Roy Wlliams, Gurode, Holland and possibly Bradie James and maybe even Ratliff if he continues to play as many downs as he does). When you think about it, that’s a very solid CB, a RB a DE, possibly 2 ILBs, a WR, a FS and 5 offensive lineman (3 starters and 2 backups).

  3. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    If you look at the Boys’ recent track record, they’ve averaged about 2-3 solid players per draft. In 2008, we got F. Jones, Mike Jenkins (jury’s still out on him being solid), Choice, Bennett (who up until this point is solid but could easily be elite) and Scandrick – which is pretty good. But, as Coleman posted, only players left from 09 are a few backups with little promise to ever crack the starting lineup. Last year, Dez Bryant and possibly Sean Lee are the only ones who look like they could develop into something.

    Let’s say Dallas is fortunate enough to draft two solid (just solid but not necessarily elite or Pro Bowl caliber) players in the next 3 drafts – guys who can hold a starting position for 5-8 years. That’s 6 young guys who shouldn’t cost the franchise much $ in the short term and can be relied upon for many years to come. Throw in a solid FA pickup each year and that becomes 9 players. Add that to the other prospects already on the roster (Phillips at TE, McCann at CB, Lee at ILB, AOA at FS, etc.) and you’ve got your solid team.

    For right now, I’d say at least one and quite possibly 2 solid free agent pickups (offensive line and free safety) are what is needed IMMEDIATELY – two guys who have been around the league, are knowledeable enough to pick up the scheme and step right in a be solid players. Then and only then can the team use the draft to concentrate on defensive line, another offensive line guy, RB, WR, CB and ILB prospects.

    THAT is what is needed at this point for Dallas to be serious contenders for extended post season play.

  4. moses says:

    I think needs are going to have to take precedence.
    We have good RBs in Jones and Choice. We could upgrade the RB position, but we need to make sure we address the RT and G positions.
    It doesn’t look like the OL field is great this year, so we will see how the draft falls out.
    This guy does run like a scat back. He will need to learn how to use his power a little better. He tended to juke in the hole when there was no hole.

  5. Mont Seventeen says:

    I think MB3 re-shapes his deal, returns 2011, He a fav of Jerry. JG likes the toughness he brings to an offense with very few overly physical guys.

    Ppl are saying the boys need a laundry list of positions filled and the quickest way to do that, is to have players on the current roster step up, something players failed to do under Wade.

    The RB above, would be a great fit, but when your QB needs as much help as Romo, any player in the Top 100 would be a nice fit on O… I would like to see the boys go after a late round RB with some size… The boys are familiar w the RB from Maryland, the Micheal Turner clone, considering they signed center Phil Costa, he would be perfect!

    The reason I say a Big back or a Turner clone… Is bc it seams this team has issues staying on schedule early in games. They have problems running when teams know they want to run. Romo’s run checks may be the worst in the league, so a guy that can get 3 yards on 2cd and 9 after being hit in the backfield, on a Romo run check, will take pressure off.

    Everyone knows, you take pressure off the QB, it takes pressure off the Oline… And that takes pressure off the O and then pressure off the D… 1-5 with your starting QB is 5-1, See how that works!

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  7. Vince_Grey says:

    Leshoure, higher rated than Ingram? That’s interesting. I think Ingram’s pretty good back, very good, actually, but there are those who compare him to Emmitt, a huge reach IMO. Obviously, if he really was that good, I’d have no problem taking him with our 1st round pick, even though RB is down on our list of needs. I mean, you couldn’t pass on another Emmitt no what, right?

    Here’s another thought. I think Trent Richardson, Ingram’s backup at Alabama, is better than Mark.

  8. Vince–No doubt you take a RB if you KNOW he’s going to be a HOFer, but of course no prospect is that flawless. I also like Richardson.

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