LIONS INSIDER

The draft should offer the Detroit Lions plenty of options at running back

Posted Jan 18, 2013

Kenjon Barner and Andre Ellington seem to fit the Lions need for a running back with speed who can catch the football and create some favorable one-on-one matchups with linebackers.

Mikel Leshoure Lions general manager Martin Mayhew made it clear when talking to reporters after the season that he’s on the lookout for a running back with “some juice and some elusiveness.”

The Lions will have to know if Jahvid Best can reclaim that role after more than a year away from the game because of concussions before free agency begins and before April's NFL Draft, so they can plan for 2013 accordingly.

If Best doesn't get his clearance, expect the Lions to find a replacement.

When it comes to the draft, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. says there are a number of options for the Lions.

“I think in terms of the running backs, Kenjon Barner (Oregon) has great speed and can catch the ball better than LaMichael James (49ers) could coming out,” he said in a conference call this week.

“He can block a little better. He’s not necessarily the pure runner James was at Oregon… but I think Kenjon Barner is a kid to keep an eye on.

“Andre Ellington had great speed at Clemson and is one of those shifty, all-purpose-type dynamos who can help you as a situational, change-of-pace back.”

Barner and Ellington seem to fit the Lions need for a running back with speed who can catch the football and create some favorable one-on-one matchups with linebackers.

"We need that shifty back that can come in and be a change-of-pace guy and catch passes out of the backfield," Mayhew said.

Kiper offered up a few other prospects in the middle to late rounds that could also fill the role.

“Ray Graham at Pittsburgh (is another),” he said. “If it had not been for his injury situation at Pitt (hamstring) I think he would have been in the second-round mix.

“Theo Riddick (from) Notre Dame was arguably one of their MVP’s and had a great year.

"Another guy that I think will be a great fifth- or sixth-round pick – we’re always looking for that next Alfred Morris (Redskins rookie) – is a kid like George Winn at Cincinnati. Winn, to me, is a very underrated player, who definitely showed the capability to be a guy that can contribute in the NFL as a late-round pick.”

The Lions are looking for some lightning to match with their thunder combination of Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell and it appears they might be able to find it in April’s draft.