Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew and head coach Jim Schwartz met with the media to talk about their decision to make a trade and pick Mikel Leshoure in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Their comments, via the Detroit Lions, are below.
GM MARTIN MAYHEW
"Mikel Leshoure - running back that we drafted. Real powerful runner. The guy has a lot of skill; 1,700 yards rushing this year. Again, another guy we have a defined role for - a guy that fits into our offense. I think he's going to have a great career here."
On drafting talent over a necessary need
"This is a definite need for us. In this business, you have to have two good running backs. I think this guy complements Jahvid really well - really, it's a need for us."
On how sure they were of him when they decided to trade up
"We were pretty sure to give up (a third- and fourth-round pick) - we'll get the terms to you later - but it was a big move for us. Like I talked about last week: if you have conviction and you trust your grades - and we do trust our grades - you can make a move, you can move up and draft a player. We feel good about this guy. He's one of the top guys on our board; he's the second running back on our board. He's right there with Ingram - we feel great about it."
On if he was wary of giving up a fourth-round pick considering the needs on the team
"We did talk about that. As I mentioned to you before: the draft is not the finish line for us as far as our personnel department. We have a lot of work to do, I told you that awhile back. We have a lot of areas where we can definitely improve and we'll continue to work at those things."
On why they graded him so well
"The guy's a great running back. He's got power, he can run - he broke some long runs; he uses speed. The guy's got agility. He runs guys over, he makes plays. He also complements the guy that we have very well. He'll be, probably - Jim will talk about his role - but he could be a four-minute back for us; he could be a short-yardage and goal-line back for us. He can do a lot of different things. He's very versatile."
On what caused them to pick Leshoure instead of another running back later in the draft
"We trust our grades. We trust our grades. We had the guy graded very high. In fact, we talked about him at the time that we drafted Titus. So we talked about him at that same time. We trust our grades on all of these guys.
"You guys are obviously looking for corners, for linebackers and that kind of thing - we trust our grades on these guys. We think our fans are really going to like these players when they see these players play."
"If I thought we didn't have any linebackers or corners, I'd be trying to acquire linebackers and corners. As I said before, this is not our finish line. When we wake up Sunday morning, we still have the opportunity to sign players - to acquire players. This is part of the process."
On how important it is to pick playmakers over the first three rounds
"I'm going to let Jim talk about that. That's a scenario for him to talk about. But all these guys - we've got some offensive weapons. That's the strength of our football team, which got stronger today. We've got a really solid defensive line, some great, young defensive linemen. That's a strength of our football team that got stronger yesterday. We're getting better. It's a process and this is just one part of the process."
HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ
"One of the things we talked about over the last few months - you need to improve your team. You also need to build your team with your strengths in mind and also build for certain situations. I think one of those situations we talked about was Atlanta making the playoffs and then getting bounced quickly without enough firepower. If you want to build this team to last; if you want to build this team to be able to withstand a lot of different things, we need a lot of different playmakers.
"I think Mikel complements Jahvid Best very, very well. He averaged more than six yards a carry. He's 227 pounds and, like Martin said, this is a guy we had targeted at 44 and all of a sudden he was on the board for way too long. We needed to make a move. Maybe we benefitted from some of the depth at the running back position behind us. Maybe we benefitted from the quarterbacks that were taken getting some of our other players. But we're not going to apologize for that. We're not going to complain about it either.
"This is a guy that can play football. Didn't fumble at all. There's a lot to like about this guy. You start putting these pieces together on offense. You need two running backs. We got two - plus the guys who were already here: tight ends, wide receivers. I think we put some really significant pieces in place and I wouldn't want to be a defensive coordinator to have to match up against a lot of those playmakers."
On if they Jahvid Best and Leshoure will be on the field at the same time
"Yet to be seen. We did a little bit of that last year. That was one of things we worked on last year and it never really came because we could never really keep all our running backs healthy at the same time. There's definitely a possibility. They're multi-dimensional players and they can do a lot of different things. But this is a 227-pound back. I mean, he's not 210-pounds or anything like that. He's got a lot of size, he's got a lot of power, but he also has the ability to break a long run. You don't average 6.5 yards per carry, or whatever it is, unless you do."
On if he anticipates how many touches he wants to give each guy
"No, we're not going to 'Randy-ratio' those things. It might change from week to week. It might change due to injuries and player availability; it might change based on opponent. I think there's a lot of different things that happen in our division. We see a 4-3 team like the Chicago Bears; we see a 3-4 team like the Green Bay Packers. That's a different style of running back. They play 3-4 teams that are two-gapping, that are holding on - you need a big back who can run through some arm tackles. You want to get guys matched up on different teams, you need guys who can match up and beat linebackers and people that want to play man and trick coverage up for a certain player. Every one of these picks - they stand alone for their talent, but they weren't drafted just for their talent. They were drafted for how they fit in with what we want to do and with a very specific role in mind for them. But, again, not with an eye toward need. That isn't something that we've been talking about. We talk about players that fit and players that can make plays for us."
On if it is safe to say that the Lions' priority is to win the division
"Anybody's goal is to win the division first. You need to match up well with teams in your division. That plays a little bit into it. But, again, rather than worrying too much about how you match up with certain teams or worrying about your needs are, we look at it and say, 'what are our strengths and how can we best accentuate our strengths?' It's not just our division that plays 3-4. There's times that we're going to need to pick up one yard on third down-and-1 or coming out and you have a 227-pound back as opposed to a 200-pound back - that can assist you there."
On if he's comfortable with him catching the ball out of the backfield
"That's something he can do. I think he catches the ball very naturally. What I like about him is that he's a real still runner, meaning his upper body doesn't move a whole lot - his lower body does a lot of the work and usually those guys are good catching the ball. You can't just be a running back and put him in the game; it's going to be a run. He needs to be able to pass protect, he's pretty good at; he has the size to be able to do that. He's a multi-dimensional back - he's not a one-trick pony either."
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