Scouting the WRs: Marqise Lee, USC

lee2Entering the 2013 college football season, the NFL Draft community expected Marqise Lee to solidify his status as a top-10 prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft.  Unfortunately, Lee ended up having his worst season as a Trojan and has the scouting community taking a closer look at his NFL projection.

There’s no denying Lee’s production in 2011 and 2012.  In those two seasons, he managed to grab 191 catches for 2,864 yards and 25 TDs.  It was safe to assume (even with a new QB) that Lee would have another big year in the box score.  That said, his 2013 campaign ended with a disappointing 57 receptions for 791 yards and only 4 TDs.

To be fair, Lee has been battling a nagging knee injury for most of the season that caused him to miss several games.  But even when healthy, he failed to display the jaw dropping plays that we’ve become accustomed to when watching him on game day.

The 2014 NFL Draft will have several talented wide receivers available for selection.  Where will Marqise Lee settle in when it’s all said and done?  Below is FRG Scouting’s analysis of his game and projection moving forward.

NAME:         Marqise Lee
Position:       Wide Receiver
Ht:                6’0″
Wt:               195lbs
40:                4.49 (EST)

Strengths:          Body control, Vision, Toughness,
Weaknesses:     Size, Body Catcher, Strength

Marqise Lee presents as an average-sized player for the WR position…He possesses adequate height but is on the slim/slender side…A smooth route runner who is clean in and out of his breaks, although he has a tendency to round his routes at times…Possesses good quickness and flexibility; is able to make a man miss in the open field with “wiggle” and sharp cuts…Very good vision with the ball in his hands; is able to cut back across the field and make a play in space…Reliable receiver who can make the tough catch in traffic; doesn’t shy away from contact and secures the catch…Possesses enough long speed to threaten the defense in the deep passing game, while also being savvy enough to find open spots in coverage in the mid-range attack…A willing blocker in the run game, even if not strong enough to maintain his assignment through contact…A plus kickoff returner who possesses a combination of vision, quickness and long speed to be a real threat on special teams.

Lee lacks the strength to consistently win vs. press coverage; will need to bulk up and get stronger…Can be slow to react off the snap and release into his route at times; must become more consistent with his reaction time…While Lee has reliable hands, he tends to let the ball get to his body a bit; Does not have the size/physicality to win as a body catcher in the NFL…Has a lingering knee injury that will need to be 100% recovered to maximize draft value.

On the next level, Lee projects as a very good complimentary receiver for a team that already has a “No. 1” on the roster.  He will be a playmaker both on offense and special teams, but he lacks the overall size/strength to consistently win vs. NFL defensive backs to be considered a go-to-guy.  This is not to say that Lee can’t be a very good pro…he will be.  But he won’t produce like his 2011 and 2012 seasons suggest; he’ll likely be a guy that hovers around the 1,000 yard mark with some highlight plays during the course of a season.  Lee reminds me a lot of Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles), and will likely produce in similar fashion.  Maclin was selected 19th overall by the Eagles in the 2009 NFL Draft.  I’d expect Lee to go later than that this May.

GRADE:  7.8 (High-2nd)

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