Power Runner Interests Chargers

Placing the highest-possible tender on Michael Turner doesn't guarantee his return - it only gives the San Diego Chargers more leverage. If Turner is moved in a sign-and-trade, the team may have a replacement in mind. The Chargers have met with a hot running back prospect whose north-and-south running style and power are similar to Turner's and who could be LaDainian Tomlinson's next caddy.

Brian Leonard is a do-it-all player. During his four years at Rutgers, he carried 678 times for 2,775 yards and 32 touchdowns. He also caught 207 passes for 1,868 yards and 13 more scores. As impressive has his on-the-field feats were, what he accomplished off the field was equally impressive. In 2006, he was honored with the Draddy Trophy, given to the National Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Leonard likens his game to that of one of the NFL's most acclaimed combo backs.

"Comparisons to Mike Alstott are as close as I can get," said Leonard. "He's a powerful back, he gets some carries, he's fast and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. I'd say I'm most like him right now."

Those Alstott-like skills were on display at the Senior Bowl. Leonard moved very well for a player of his size (6-foot-1, 224 pounds). He dominated in blitz pick-up situations, displaying a terrific combination of awareness and aggression. Also, he looked comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield and showed good decisiveness on his inside runs.

Leonard's game does have its limitations. As a running back, he lacks both elusiveness and the ability to change directions quickly. He would have to gain weight to play fullback, although he is intent on proving he can stick as a halfback.

"That's why I dropped a lot of weight, from 238 down to 224, to show that I can play running back on the next level," Leonard said.

NFL scouts debate which position he should play but are near unanimous in the assessment that he is a player. Leonard met with more than 20 teams during Senior Bowl week, including the Chargers, with each suitor envisioning what his hardnosed style could bring to its offense.

No matter the scheme, Leonard is confident he can find his niche.

"I want to show how versatile I am," he said. "I can catch the ball, I can run the ball and I can pass block. I can do many things on the field."

Leonard compares the Senior Bowl and the Combine to job interviews and his performances at both have left his future employers impressed. Come draft day, San Diego would be elated to welcome aboard Leonard as its newest hire.


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