THE POWER BACKS
Mikel Leshoure, Illinois
Good News: Good balance and power…Can run through
arm tackles and bowl over defensive backs in the second
level…Exceptionally quick feet and nimble for a player his size…Solid
vision to find cutback lanes and great burst allows him to take
Bad News: Runs too high at times…Speed is good for
a player his size but not great overall and won’t pull away from a lot
of NFL defenses…Will need to improve in pass protection…Flashes
productivity as a receiver but catches a lot of balls with his
body…Suspended in 2009 for violation of team rules
2010 Statistics: Second-team All-American and Texas
Bowl MVP…Gained 1,697 yards with 17 touchdowns on 281 carries (6.04
ypc)…Added 193 yards and three more scores on 17 receptions (11.35
Prediction: Leshoure is often compared to his
Fighting Illini predecessor, Rashard Mendenhall, due to similar running
styles. While I don’t believe Leshoure is as good a prospect as
Mendenhall, he’s still explosive for a power back and has the skill set
to be an every-down player. Some view him as a potential late
first-round pick, but barring a trade, I really don’t see any suitors
in that area who need to spend that high of a pick on a running back.
It’s more likely you will see Leshoure chosen in the second round.
Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
Good News: Powerful downhill runner…Runs through
arm tackles and can make defenders who don’t wrap-up pay with a nice
spin move…Good enough balance to stay on feet through contact…Excellent
athletic ability for a player his size, showing the agility to plant
and cut up field with decent burst…Plenty of experience in the Wildcat
and is a threat to throw the ball as a former quarterback…Solid vision
but not elite…Reliable receiver.
Bad News: Has been unable to run in front of scouts
yet due to a nagging hamstring injury and does not show good speed on
tape anyways…Runs too high at times and leaves himself
exposed…Legitimate ball-security issues…Questionable pass blocker.
2010 Statistics: Second-team All-Big 12 selection
and Kansas State Offensive Most Valuable Player…Gained 1,585 yards with
19 touchdowns on 298 carries (5.32 ypc)…Added 171 yards on 27
receptions (6.33 ypc).
Prediction: Thomas doesn’t display great speed on
film and scouts have legitimate concerns. Unfortunately he has done
nothing to silence his doubters, as a hamstring injury has prevented
him from running thus far in the pre-draft process. When he finally
works out, a good day will solidify a spot in the second round while a
poor performance could drop him as low as the fourth.
Jamie Harper, Clemson
Good News: Flashes the power to put his shoulder
down and bowl over defenders…Good balance to stay on his feet through
contact…Athletic for his size, showing nice feet to elude tacklers and
burst to break the longer run…Impressive receiving ability – shows
incredible body control and can adjust to the football…Good amount of
tread on the tires (just 311 career carries).
Bad News: Negates his power by running too
high…Needs to run with better pad level more consistently…Fast for his
size, but average overall speed…Only average lateral agility and
vision…Could improve in pass protection and has the size to be
2010 Statistics: Gained 760 yards with seven
touchdowns on 197 carries (3.86 ypc)…Added 328 yards with three more
scores on 35 receptions (9.37 ypc).
Prediction: Harper is one of the most underrated
big backs available in 2011. He needs to improve his pad level to
become more consistent as a power runner, but he flashes fantastic
strength and possesses uncanny ability as a receiver. He should be able
to contribute early as a third-down back and should be selected in the
fourth or fifth rounds.
Alex Green, Hawaii
Good News: No-nonsense runner who immediately gets
downfield…Powerful and is willing to lower his shoulder into defenders
to gain extra yardage…Bursts through the hole without hesitation…Nimble
for his size and flashes quick feet to elude defenders from time to
time…Soft hands out of the backfield and can contribute as a receiver.
Bad News: Lacks vision and patience…Straight-ahead
runner and isn’t going to elude a lot of NFL defenders…Good enough
speed but lacks a second gear to pull away from the defense…Likely
isn’t an every-down back at the next level.
2010 Statistics: Only the seventh Hawaii player to
gained 1,000 yards rushing or more in a season…Gained 1,199 yards with
18 touchdowns on 146 carries (8.21 ypc)…Added 363 yards with another
score on 27 receptions (13.44 ypc).
Prediction: Green doesn’t have the vision and
patience to be an every-down player in the NFL, but he can be
productive in a committee of backs. His added ability as a receiver
makes him an attractive option as a third-down back as well. Teams
looking to add a power element can find value in Green during the fifth
Stevan Ridley, Louisiana State
Good News: Decisive downhill runner who attacks the
line of scrimmage…Lowers shoulders into contact and keeps his feet
driving…Strong and consistently falls forward…Good feet and lateral
agility…Solid vision to locate cutback lanes.
Bad News: Average speed and isn’t going to pull
away from defenses…Lacks elusiveness…Limited experience as a
receiver…Likely not an every-down back in the NFL…Had just one season
of production before leaving school.
2010 Statistics: All-SEC first-team
selection…Gained 1,147 yards with 15 touchdowns on 249 carries (4.61
ypc)…Added 61 yards on 11 receptions (5.54 ypc).
Prediction: Ridley emerged as the Tigers’ top back
in 2010 after registering just 67 carries in his previous two seasons
combined. He’s the Mike Anderson/Reuben Droughns-type of big back that
can excel in a zone blocking scheme. If not in a zone scheme, he could
offer a power option in a committee of runners, but his value decreases
because he’s not going to be an every-down player. Ridley should
warrant fifth or sixth round consideration.
Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech
Notes…Powerful back with good balance, but played in a triple-option
offense that typically hasn’t translated well to the next level.
Allen Bradford, Southern California
Notes…Converted defensive player who can offer power as a physical
downhill runner in a committee of ball carriers.
John Clay, Wisconsin
Notes…Huge runner with surprisingly nimble feet, but posted an
alarmingly slow 40-yard dash time at the combine.
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