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 of his explosiveness 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, 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.
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. 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.
The problem for Dallas is 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