Given how obvious the need at wide receiver is for the New York Jets, it stands to reason that they would like to use their first round pick to upgrade the position. We looked at Sammy Watkins as a potential target yesterday, and today we move to the No. 2 ranked receiver prospect in the draft, Marqise Lee. Lee had an outstanding career at USC, and he is someone who has been linked to the Jets for months.
Lee made an immediate impact with the Trojans, catching 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman. Lee then followed that with an incredible sophomore season, when he caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 TDs, winning the Biletnikoff Award and being named an All-American in the process. Lee’s stats suffered his junior year due to poor quarterback play and absurd attention from defenses, and he managed only 57 receptions for 791 yards and 4 TDs. However, that decline has had little impact on Lee’s draft status.
Like Watkins, Lee would be an immediate upgrade to the Jets’ receiving corps and give them a true No. 1 receiver. What makes Lee different, however, is how he plays. At 6’0″, 195 lbs, Lee has good size but is not a physical player or the type of receiver that is going to routinely win jump balls. However, Lee is extremely polished for a college receiver, and he should have a very short adjustment to the NFL game. As a bonus, Lee has some very good credentials as a return man.
Lee is an excellent route runner who is very fast in and out of his breaks, and he possess mid 4.4 speed. There are some minor concerns about his ability to beat press coverage, but his quickness and smarts make up for it. Lee has arguably the best hands in the draft, and he has shown the ability to make tough catches in traffic. Antonio Brown and Jeremy Maclin are fair NFL comparisons for Lee, and frankly I believe he will turn out to be even better than them. In fact, some people have gone so far as to throw Marvin Harrison’s name into the mix, but very few players ever reach that level.
As a side note here, one small knock on Lee that is going around is the failure of recent receivers from USC in the NFL. Those concerns are absurd. Not only is Lee an entirely different person than players such as Mike Williams and Dwyane Jarrett, he is a different type of player who played in different systems with different quarterbacks, as he will in the NFL. The success or failure of previous receivers from USC is completely irrelevant in evaluating Lee.
In my opinion, Lee is the perfect fit for the Jets. His reliable hands and precise route running are ideal for the West Coast offense, and he would immediately give Geno Smith the consistent top target he lacked this season. Teams also love Lee for his incredible backstory, as he worked his way out of a very rough childhood in Inglewood, California to earn his way to USC. Lee is an exceptionally motivated and hard working individual, and the Jets would do well to add his presence in the locker as well as on the field.
If we are being realistic, Watkins should be off the board by the time the Jets pick. However, Lee falling to No. 18 is a plausible option. There are a few teams in front of the Jets that could be looking at Lee, including the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams, but they could very well go in another direction. In my opinion, Lee is a much better fit for the Jets than Mike Evans, and landing him in the first round has to be considered a perfect scenario. The Jets will be hoping Lee slides to them on draft day, and if he does then this should be a no-brainer selection.
Previous Scouting Reports: Sammy Watkins