Detroit Lions: Ferocious Power RB Mikel Leshoure, the New NFC North Mufasa

Kyle GibbonsAnalyst IIIJune 2, 2011

AP Photo
AP Photo

Mikel Leshoure is primed to make an immediate impact in the division preeminently defined by its “Black and Blue” moniker. Leshoure’s combination of size and vicious power are a perfect complement to the remarkable speed and agility of current Detroit Lions starting running back Jahvid Best.

Coupled with elusive speed and soft hands, Leshoure is a short yardage monster capable of exploding into the secondary and decisive enough to make defenders miss. These abilities are prominent in successful NFL backs, but are paramount in the defensive powerhouse NFC North Division.

Leshoure’s ability to establish himself as an integral part of a team’s passing scheme sets him apart from NFC North foe Adrian Peterson. Peterson’s inability to contribute out in the flats has led to inconsistency in terms of Minnesota's ability to successfully move the ball regularly through the passing game.

In terms of game preparation, opponents must approach Leshoure as a back capable of making an impact similar to what Steven Jackson does in St. Louis. Steven Jackson is the quintessential versatile runner/receiver combination, and is someone who Leshoure has studied closely for years.

"He's a big guy but he's very versatile," Leshoure said. "He shows good hands and he shows toughness and he plays through injuries, and I feel like I can do all of those things and hopefully I'll have a career like he has so far."

Though Leshoure compares his game to that of St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson, Former NFL Head Coach Brian Billick says he reminds him more of Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons.

“He churns his legs quickly and accelerates through the hole quickly.  He puts his foot in the ground and makes one cut and then gets up field and gets as many yards as possible.” Billick said. Billick went on to say that Leshoure changes direction well and properly “runs behind his pads in the open field.”

Leshoure shows tenacity in his ability to fight as a blocker in the backfield and has experience protecting the passer, a quality of utmost importance to the Lions. It was a role that starting running back Jahvid Best failed to fill in 2010.

At nearly 6’0 and 227 pounds, Leshoure runs a 4.5 second 40 yard dash, faster than NFL Hall of Fame running backs Emmitt Smith and Marcus Allen.

Leshoure’s power is clearly evident in his 21 bench repetitions at the 2011 NFL Combine, a number that is only one less than 4x Pro Bowl selection 49ers">San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis recorded at his combine in 2007.

Mikel Leshoure is downright explosive. Leshoure’s 38 inch vertical jump is two inches higher than NBA superstar Dwayne Wade’s recorded jump.

Dwayne Wade is regarded as possibly the best athlete in the NBA today.

With the power and explosiveness that Mikel Leshoure displayed in the pro style, linebacker heavy Big Ten Conference, it’s virtually guaranteed that he will be at the forefront of defensive coordinators' minds when they prepare to play against the Detroit Lions in 2011.

Leshoure embodies Detroit's new emphasis on physicality and dominance on both sides of the ball.

It was as evident as Week 5 at Ford Field when Detroit trounced the Rams last year as it was after they closed the season on a four game winning streak. The Lions have gotten used to the taste of blood, and now they’re going for the throat.

Adrian Peterson’s dominant reign over the NFC North will come to an end in 2011. Mikel Leshoure is explosive power personified.

All hail Mikel Leshoure, the new King of the “Black and Blue.”