Today's 'Draft Prospects' takes a look at USC wide receiver Marqise Lee. Lee has been mentioned to the Ravens with some mock drafts and could be available at the end of the first or early second if the Ravens were to find a trade partner.
Lee is a versatile receiving option that has faced some challenges in getting to the draft. At 6-foot and 192 pounds, Lee plays bigger than his size indicates and can be an absolute force in the passing game when healthy. When healthy, Lee is one of the more polished receivers in this draft class and will make whatever team drafts him pretty happy.
A quick slasher type of receiver, Lee is neither big enough or fast enough to be a consistent home run hitter in the offense. He doesn't have the size and strength to break tackles but is quick enough to make a defender take a bad angle and will gain his yardage that way. He does a good job of keeping his eye on deep passes and if thrown well, can take a defense deep but will not burn top tier corners in the pros. Lee does a great job catching the ball away from his body using his fingers and will rarely drop a pass, but needs to do better securing the ball in traffic or will be susceptible to fumbles. He has a great first step and the acceleration to lull a corner to sleep and gain separation as well as the route running ability to gain separation through savvy moves of the hips and feet. He has all the vibes of a Derrick Mason and can play both inside and outside on an offense.
Isn't eager to engage in blocks and when he does, he extends his arms too far and doesn't have the pop you need to block well. Due to this size and his poor technique, he will get pushed around. He needs to do a better job of tracking defenders during longer plays and turnovers or he will be on highlight reels by getting knocked out.
Lee has faced a tremendous amount of hurdles to even make it to the draft. Between injuries, his parents being deaf, family issues that resolved by being put into foster care and moving in with a friend's family and being unofficially adopted. By all accounts, he is a motivated person that works hard and is a feel good story through and through.
What I saw watching tape on Lee is that he has all the traits you would like to see from a #1 wide receiver but he looks a little slow and without as much pop as you would want, to which injuries are likely to be sapping that from him. Even with his injuries, he has the skill to gain a step on a corner and enough speed to maintain it. If he gets healthy, he should be even more explosive.
He could be a star or he could spend most of his time on injured reserve and be a waste of a high round pick. If he beefs himself up more, learns how to be tackled better and can keep track of defenders to avoid devastating hits, he might be able to keep himself healthy. Ultimately Lee is a late first round and early second round pick because of his injury history but without that, he would be a consensus #1 or #2 wide receiver in the draft. If the Ravens trade down into the bottom of the first round, look for Lee to be their pick. If he falls into the second round, look for not only the Ravens but a few other receiver hungry teams to trade up and snag him at a good value and hope he can keep healthy.