CHAMPAIGN, Ill.—A huge junior season, bolstered by a 330-yard effort against Northwestern, has Mikel Leshoure projected to be a potential first-round draft pick.
The Illinois back, who set the school record with 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns, stood on his Scouting Combine workouts on Wednesday during the Illini pro day.
Representatives from 30 NFL teams were present and Leshoure spent 10 minutes chatting with Chicago Bears running backs coach Tim Spencer before doing positional drills. It was interesting to watch and clearly Spencer was there to evaluate Leshoure, who was the only running back present. It’s curious because the Bears have Matt Forte, who is coming off his best season as a pro, and Chester Taylor, who they signed to a $12.5 million, four-year contract last year. Taylor didn’t perform well, but the thinking is the team will still try to get a return on its investment.
Some have mentioned Leshoure as a possibility for the St. Louis Rams too, who have workhorse back Steven Jackson in place. It raised the question, does Leshoure believe a team with a star back would consider selecting him in the first round?
“I think in the NFL now days you need a tandem,” Leshoure said. “One power back taking 20, 30 carries a game, that adds up over the years. Usually, people are going with two backs. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team with a star back now was to scoop me up.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune