2012 NFL Draft Impact: Lions Optimistic About RB Mikel Leshoure
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An important piece of news came out today from Mlive.com Lions beat writer Anwar Richardson that could affect their running back need in the NFL draft. Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz gave us the closest thing yet to a definitive timeline for RB Mikel LeShoure's return from a torn achilles:
Schwartz said he did not want to put a timetable on Leshoure's return, but believed he should be available by training camp - or sooner - at last week's NFL Owners Meetings.
"No real update," Schwartz said. "A little bit like Nick Fairley. He had an injury in the first week of training camp. It's a pretty straight-forward injury. He's done well. He's been running. He's been at our facility doing his rehab and (we) look forward to getting him back on the field and don't anticipate any troubles."
While Schwartz says "no real update," he has revealed that the injury is straightforward—Leshoure is running and that the team doesn't anticipate troubles. A definitive time line would be nice, but Schwartz's optimism is probably enough for us (along with the recent re-signing of Kevin Smith) to push running back lower on the list of team needs.
If the Lions do draft a running back in the first three or four rounds, it could be a sign of less optimism about LeShoure and fellow running back Jahvid Best—whose 2011 was ended by a concussion—than the Lions have expressed publicly. Schwartz himself left that door open when he recalled the team's running back situation in 2011:
"Last year, had a very good complementary backs system with Leshoure and Jahvid Best going into the season, so much that we didn't even really feel the need to re-sign Kevin Smith. Five weeks into the regular season both Jahvid and Leshoure were unavailable. And then Kevin came in and gave us a tremendous boost, and then he got hurt. So running back, like any other position, you're never comfortable anywhere in the NFL when it comes to depth. It's going to get tested over the course of 16 games."
The Lions should put a low priority on running back in the draft. That we're even discussing whether they will after spending a first- and second-round pick on the position in the last two drafts shows just how brutal the position can be in the NFL.
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