It has been a long, strange journey for Detroit Lions 2011 second-round pick Mikel LeShoure just to get to the field. With all the injuries and suspensions behind him, we can start to talk about his career on the gridiron.
Since we are a society obsessed with the fantasy aspect of sports, now seems like as good a time as any to look at what LeShoure will bring to the table for the Lions and, by extension, you.
A lot of hype was put on LeShoure's legs when the Lions drafted him because of the team's inability to find a running back basically since Barry Sanders retired. He certainly has the talent to be a star—he has just been biding his time waiting for the opportunity.
Now that it has arrived, here is a look at what to expect from LeShoure the rest of the season.
LeShoure, The Running Back
The Lions are one of the most pass-oriented teams in the NFL. Last year they threw the ball 666 times and ran it just 356. That lack of diversity on offense could cripple a lot of teams, but the Lions were fortunate to have Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson to hide a lot of flaws.
Part of the problem has been that none of the backs that have come through the system have lived up to expectations. Kevin Smith, Jahvid Best, et al. have had chances and failed.
LeShoure is the next in line, and he would seem to be the exception to the rule. Leading up to the 2011 Draft, ESPN's scouting profile (Insider Only) on him stated that he was someone who "runs hard and fights for yards after contact but tries to make too much happen at times and can get caught dancing in the backfield."
Coming off an ACL injury and two-game suspension, it will be hard to envision him going full speed ahead right out of the gate.
Don't expect instant results. Football is a hard game to be successful at, especially when you haven't played real games in nearly 20 months.
LeShoure is a valuable addition to your roster because there is plenty of upside, but give him time to get used to the speed and physicality of the game before you try to start him.
LeShoure, The Receiver
LeShoure was never a good pass-catcher out of the backfield in college. He has some skills as a receiver, though he needs to work on using his hands more.
Given that the Lions need all of their offensive skill players to catch the ball in order to play, I wouldn't worry about him struggling in this phase of the game too much. I don't think he will ever be an elite pass-catcher, but if he is able to grab 20-25 passes he should be fine.
It also helps that Kevin Smith, who is a good receiver out of the backfield, can take some pressure of LeShoure. The Lions might be able to implement a lot more two-back sets with both players available.
I am not a huge fan of LeShoure right now. He has so many red flags that make you nervous. He does have tremendous potential as a late waiver add this week to keep on the roster until he proves himself one way or the other.
If you need a backup running back, LeShoure is probably as safe a bet as anyone you will find out there right now. If he gets enough carries, he can get 700-750 yards and a handful of touchdowns this season.