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Patriots NFL Draft Prospect: RB Mikel Leshoure, Illinois

Name: RB Mikel Leshoure

School: Illinois

Size: 6'0, 227 lbs

Expected Round: 1st-2nd

40 Time: 4.56s

Career Stats: Click Here.

Player Previews: CBS; Walter Football; NFL Combine [If you would like your website included, please e-mail me!]

Strengths: Big strong running back who is hard to take down. Hits the holes with viciousness. Makes quick cuts away from tacklers if there's daylight, but is willing and able to lower his shoulder if there's nowhere to go. Has the size to become an effective pass blocker, but comes from an Illinois program where he is inexperienced at blocking. Able receiver. Won't ever be taken down by arm tackles and is an elite red zone running talent. Zero fumbles.

Weaknesses: Not the fastest player, even though he's quick. Comes from an odd offense in Illinois so he'll have a steeper learning curve. Runs a little high in his stance, which makes him a larger target for defenders. While I wouldn't say he dances in the backfield, he can wait too long for his blockers, which makes him a backfield target. Some past character concerns.

Why and Why Not the Patriots after the jump, and my final verdict!

Why the Patriots?: The Patriots are in the market for a three down back and Leshoure definitely has the potential. He's a strong runner who could help pass blocking on third down. He's one of the top talents in the draft and he's healthy. If you want a grinder in the backfield who has he ability to take off for a 40 yard gain, Leshoure's your man. If you want a third down back who can block and catch, Leshoure's your man. He's a do-everything player who could do everything in the Patriots' offense.

Why Not the Patriots?: Price tag. He's either a first or second rounder, which is a price the Patriots probably won't be willing to pay for a running back. If he drops into the middle of the second, I can see the Patriots making a move, but there are other viable options at running back who are solid alternatives for a cheaper price.

Verdict: I like Leshoure, but I think his price tag is too much for what he'll bring to the table. I'd wait for the middle rounds to draft a running back (at the earliest), which prevents me from committing to Leshoure. He can have success in the right offense, but I also question if he can be an NFL workhorse. He seems like a guy who would thrive in a smash-and-dash offense as the smash component- and the Patriots are lacking the "dash" aspect.

Courtesy of Aaron Aloysius