Illinois' Leshoure another RB option

INDIANAPOLIS -- Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure didn't hold anything back when asked which current NFL player his running style best compares.

"Steven Jackson," Leshoure responded without pause. "I love the way he plays. He reminds me of myself."

Leshoure, at 6-feet and 230 pounds, is among the bigger running backs in this year's draft class. The same was true for Jackson (6-foot-2, 231 pounds) in 2004, when the three-time Pro Bowler was drafted by the Rams.

"[Jackson is a] big guy, but is very versatile. Shows good hands, shows toughness, and he's played through injuries," Leshoure said. "I feel that I can do all those things and hopefully can have a career like he's had so far."

ESPN's Mel Kiper predicted in his first mock draft (Jan. 19) that Leshoure would be selected by the Patriots at No. 28 in the first round.

"I definitely feel like I'm a complete back. I feel like I can run, I can pass block, and I'm very confident with my hands," Leshoure explained. "Not only in the short, five-to-ten yard routes, but I feel like I can beat some of the safeties and linebackers downfield."

Even though many analysts have Alabama's Mark Ingram as the top available running back in this year's draft, Leshoure was not lacking in confidence when asked about the prospect of coming off the board first.

"Yes, I definitely think I can be the number one back taken, and that's my goal" Leshoure said. "You see a lot of different things on TV, but I feel like my versatility and the things that I can bring to the table will show a lot of GMs, scouts, and owners that I can be that guy."