Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 4/2/12
The running back position.

It is easily the Lions' most unstable position given the talent on staff. Expect this instability to have effects on how the Lions approach the upcoming draft.

It is true that reports are encouraging that Mikel Leshoure is on track, even ahead of schedule, to return from a devastating Achilles injury. Kevin Smith has been resigned. Jahvid Best is preparing to return with no lingering effects from the concussions he suffered last year.

This news comes as an encouraging sign for the upcoming season... if you believe it.

It's not so much a case of players or medical staff trying to lie to the public as it is the potential for false optimism.

Mikel Leshoure was dynamic... in college. But he missed his rookie year due to injury. And not just any injury but an Achilles injury. There is no telling what kind of production he is going to have. If this injury only costs him a half a step, it could significantly reduce his ability to become effective. That is assuming of course, that he can stay drug free for long enough to get on the field. After his latest drug bust, that is not likely to happen for at least 4 games.

Kevin Smith is a tough, hard-nosed, downhill style of runner. He tends to take people by surprise with good decision making and sheer unwillingness to go down. Unfortunately, when he does go down, he tends to stay down. His legs have also been a cause for concern for the Lions. Though we know what he is capable of, and it is more than enough, that doesn't help if he's only available for six games a season.

Jahvid Best is a quicker, more elusive back. He tends to go down a little easier than Kevin Smith does, but when he's twenty yards downfield that doesn't mean as much. He is one of those people who could break for the endzone on any play. Unfortunately, through his career he seems to be more of a hotel desk clerk than a running back. Every time opposing defenses come to town to stay, they see a big sign in the backfield "Ring Bell For Service." And they do. Again and again and again. His head has to feel like Big Ben at this point. 

Three impressive running backs. Three potential starters. And with the history behind each, look for Mayhew to draft another one.

Running back is an essential position to any football team. Although the Lions are never going to be mistaken for the Baltimore Ravens, running backs kill clock, they close out games, and they slow down defenses giving Matt Stafford even more time to do damage. While a powerful offensive line is the best way to protect your quarterback, a devastating running game is a close second. The Lions war room knows this, and it is an advantage they will be seeking.

So with the glut at running back, which will the Lions feature? The most versatile? The strongest? The fastest?

Again this year, the Detroit Lions will enter the 2012 season with some definite ideas of who they want to feature, but in the end, they will go
with the last man standing.


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