Scouting Report: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Scouting Report: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

Marqise Lee is a big time talent
By: Pete Davidson : April 07, 2014 7:39am

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It seems that Marqise Lee is a bit of a riddle these days. People are all over the map on him because of his injuries and due to his poor performance at the Combine. Of course, these two things are quite possibly linked.  For me, breaking down Lee is no different now than it was at the end of the 2012 season. You just have to factor in the health situation. Because, if we put his health concerns aside, Lee is a lock to play well in the NFL. He’s simply too good to be a healthy bust

Marqise is a slightly bigger version of Santonio Holmes. That would be about the best way I can describe him. He’s that good when healthy and he’s potentially that bad in terms of durability.  On the plus side, there’s no evidence at all to suggest that Lee is a divisive force in the clubhouse as Holmes has proven to be.  By all accounts, Marqise is a good teammate.

Lee has the potential to be this year’s Keenan Allen if he can stay healthy. That is, if he slips in the draft.  He may not, as Lee is NFL-ready. His forty time in Indianapolis was probably a low time for him. He looks faster than that when healthy. Lee also plays better than his speed due to advanced routes and a great feel for the position. 

Let’s take a look at Marqise’s Combine data.

  • Height - 6’0”
  • Weight - 192
  • Hands - 9 1/2”
  • 40 - 4.52
  • Vertical Jump - 38”
  • Broad Jump - 127”
  • 20 YD Shuttle - 4.01

These are all very respectable numbers and as I said, the forty time is probably a bit on the slow side based on how Lee plays in pads. He had a chance to improve his time at USC’s Pro Day, but took a pass. When asked if he considered running the forty again, Lee said "no... I knew I could do better but at the end of the day, you have to understand that film is different than a forty time."

At the Combine, when asked what he’s telling coaches, Lee was blunt. “I'm going to compete 24-7, no matter what vet is there, who is coming in, what free agent they got. I'm always going to compete and bring a positive mindset to the game. No negativity, not going to question anything, just going to get the job done.”

When asked what the teams are asking him, Lee said “the Injury of course, and trying to rush it back. It's a little bit my fault (the drops). Loss of focus as far as not looking the ball all the way in before getting too comfortable. Not looking the ball all the way in before I make a run, running before catching the ball, things like that.”

Things we like about Marqise.

  • Routes - Lee is a smooth route runner, but his cuts are very sudden. He has a great feel for the game and comes back for the football well.
  • Hands - As Lee alluded to, he has had some issues with running before the catch is secure. His drops are not hands-related for the most part. He catches the ball very well and he can make catches away from his frame when he needs to.
  • Ball skills - He gets his head turned early and locates the ball well. He tracks the deep ball very well. Lee will usually outplay the defender when the ball is in the air. He can go up and get the ball too, which helps him in the red zone.
  • Speed - He timed a bit slower than we anticipated, but his speed on film is undeniable and he has the ability to turn on the jets when needed. He has an extra gear.
  • Agility - You can miss it if you don’t pay attention, because Lee makes it look so natural and easy. He gets in and out of his cuts effortlessly and gets off the ground in a flash. He’s instinctive and intuitive as a ball carrier.
  • Athleticism - It’s a synthesis of all the above, but it deserves its own space in Lee’s case. He’s a very smooth natural athlete and he plays faster than most players because of it.  
  • Competitiveness - Lee is a naturally competitive athlete. He responds to a challenge and should thrive against better competition at the next level.
  • Production - The numbers dropped off in 2013 because of the knee situation, but Lee was very productive throughout his three seasons at Southern California.

This is the video to watch for Lee, because it shows you that he was ready for the NFL in 2012.

Here's a look at Lee in his final game as a collegian.

If you want to dig deeper into Marqise's film, there's plenty more at Draft Breakdown.  As Lee said himself, film is different than a forty time. That’s probably why he is resting on a mediocre outcome. He ended the season banged up and wants to be as healthy as possible for the individual workouts with teams in the weeks leading up to the draft. Those workouts will most likely determine Lee’s fate on draft day.

When you watch his film, you can see that Marqise is generally the best athlete on the field. He stands out in a group of top athletes. He’ll stand out at the next level too. We expect very good things from him, perhaps even as a rookie if he lands in a place where playing time is plentiful.

The risks I see with Marqise are simple enough and both are injury-related. First, you have the knee. It’s very possible that there are some lingering issues and, since teams get to check out player’s orthopedically, Lee’s ultimate draft value will reflect the outcome of those exams. If his knee gets a clean bill, I would be shocked to see Lee get out of round one. No way will teams like San Francisco pass on such a game-ready talent if he’s healthy.

The other risk is long term health. Lee is a fearless receiver and he puts himself in harm’s way regularly. At less than 200 pounds, he may not be built for a long career. So dynasty owners may want to peg him down a bit when comparing him to bigger players who also have high-end ability.

I’ll update Marqise's value after the draft. Lee is an important player in that regard, because he has the chops to post impressive numbers as a rookie if he is in the right situation.  



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