Dec 21, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Southern California Trojans receiver Marqise Lee (9) catches a pass against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. USC defeated Fresno State 45-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The SideLion Report Detroit Lions NFL Draft Prospect Profile series gives an in-depth scouting analysis of college football players who could be on the Lions’ radar this spring.
Along with cornerback, wide receiver has been a popular pick for Lions in early mock drafts and justifiably so, as the Lions desperately need help at the position. With most analysts predicting Clemson Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins being gone before the Lions make their choice at the ten spot, the next highest rated receivers include Mike Evans and Marqise Lee.
After viewing four games (Arizona State, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA), I gave Lee an 8.0 grade (first round, 15-20 range). Here’s an excerpt from his scouting report:
Marqise Lee – Wide Receiver – USC
Height: 5116 Weight: 192 40 Time: 4.52
NFL Comparison: Antonio Brown
Extremely productive in a big time conference. Outstanding athlete – top notch explosiveness with above average fluidity, balance and speed. Bursts into and out of breaks and can run the full route tree. Reliable hands and the body control to catch off-target throws. Dangerous runner in space. Versatile – can play inside or out. Good blocker. Fiery, competitive defender who leaves it all on the field. Tough and will play hurt. Team captain.
Lacks prototypical size and strength – could struggle versus bigger, physical corners at the next level. Has lapses in concentration at times and will drop passes. Durability is a question – was nicked up during senior year.
The 2012 Biletnikoff award winner finished his college career with 3,655 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns, though his production was down this season as he missed time due to injuries. While he lacks prototypical size, Lee’s overall athletic ability sets him up to be such a difference maker when he’s on the field. Of particular note is his explosiveness – Lee’s ability to transition to top speed after he catches the ball allows him to consistently separate from defenders even though he lacks elite long speed. Just as impressive is his ability to move effortlessly into and out of breaks. His rare fluidity allows him the ability to run the entire route tree without having to gear down, ensuring he always provides an open target. When you combine these attributes with reliable hands and the body control to adjust and make the tough catch, Lee has the necessary tools to line up inside or out . Perhaps most impressive is the way he plays the game – Lee is a highly competitive, tough, gritty receiver who wants to win. The only negatives I saw to his game were his lack of ideal size, strength and the durability questions that were raised this season. When healthy, Lee is a number one receiver with the ability to change the outcome of a game every time he steps on the field. Mid-first round pick.
After his numbers dropped off in 2013 due to injuries, quarterback issues and coaching changes, Lee has been overshadowed by the likes of bigger receivers Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin. Scouts look at the total picture, however, when examining prospects. It was only a little over a year ago that Lee topped off a 118 reception, 1,721 receiving yard, 14 touchdown season, making him a unanimous All-American, Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner. Lee’s impressive stats as a freshman (73 receptions, 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns) prove he’s not a one year wonder. His outstanding athleticism allows him the versatility to be used in a variety of ways, and there’s no doubt he will be an impact player at the next level if he can stay healthy.