Lions host RB LaMichael James for pre-draft visit

Posted Mar 21, 2012

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew summed up the team's running back position best after the season when he said:

"Running back is kind of a tricky position for us right now, because we could have an embarrassment of riches there if Jahvid is back at 100-percent and Mikel (Leshoure) is back at 100-percent and we're hitting on all cylinders, we got a pretty solid group," he said.

"On the other hand, neither one of those guys is playing football right now, so it could be a situation where we need to address it."

Jahvid Best missed the final 11 games (including playoffs) after suffering a second concussion against the 49ers in Week 6.

Running back Mikel Leshoure, who the Lions drafted in the second round last year, missed the entire year because of an Achilles tendon injury.

Both are expected to be ready for the start of the regular season, but it's always tricky predicting how players will respond to serious injuries.

The Lions are certainly keeping their options open at the position and hosted former Oregon running back LaMichael James on Wednesday for a pre-draft visit.

James (5-9, 195) is similar in both stature and ability to Best. He is a speed back who is great in space and is also a terrific receiver.

James posted 4.42 and 4.41 marks in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day – which the Lions attended – and was "extremely quick" in position drills, according to most reports.

"We are definitely similar," James said of he and Best. "Turn on the film and we look similar and we're more alike than not. There's always little differences, but for the most part, we're pretty similar."

Even with a healthy Best and a healthy Leshoure next season, James said he could see himself as part of the Lions' offense.

"I know they have a great quarterback, great receiver, great running back," James said. "Jahvid Best, I think, is the best running back out there. He's really good. Mikel Leshoure, I think he's a good player, too. I'd just have to get in where I fit in. It doesn't matter to me, I just want to go out there and help the team win any way I can."

James' value isn't just as running back at the next level. He could be a terrific kick returner in the NFL and his services could be very attractive to teams as an athlete who can play running back, receiver and return kicks.

James is projected a second- or third-round pick and there's certainly value there for his talents.

"We can't necessarily put all our eggs in the basket of guys that are coming off injuries," Lions president Tom Lewand told season ticketholders last month.

"We have to make sure that we've got some depth there, and we'll look at free agency and the draft as well as trades, as well as waiver claims, as well as street guys."