Marqise Lee 2014 NFL Draft preseason scouting report

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Can Lee top his incredible sophomore season and land in the top 10 of the 2014 NFL Draft?

Marqise Lee | Wide Receiver | USC | Junior | 6'1, 195 pounds

2012 Stats: 118 catches, 1,721 yards, 14 touchdowns

The buzz was real at USC last season. Ranked as the No. 1 team in the country preseason by some publications, the Trojans were led by quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods. But as it turned out, sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee made the biggest jump and became the impact player for USC's offense.

Initially recruited to play safety, Lee is a gifted athlete that can hurt a defense in a number of different ways. The 2012 Belitnekoff Award winner was downright dominant during his second season at USC and is in line to be a high draft pick if he bolts for the NFL after his upcoming junior season.

What he does well

Lee is a gifted athlete who wastes no movement in his routes. He gets down the field in a hurry and demonstrates explosion in every aspect of his game. A track star at USC, Lee has the speed to deliver the kill shot over the top of the defense but the quickness needed to make plays underneath. Once the ball is in his hands, Lee is a dangerous playmaker with the vision and burst to pick up extra yardage after the catch.

Once he gains the separation, Lee is gifted at tracking the football and making plays down the field. He shows outstanding leaping ability, high-pointing passes at their apex. His body control is also top notch, as he can adjuct his body along the sidelines and in the air while maintaining the focus needed to finish the catch.

While his athleticism is what jumps off the screen at first glance, Lee's physicality and toughness will separate him from other wide receivers in this class. He's a tenacious blocker who gets down the field and engages defenders with natural balance and body control. He also shows the strength to break tackles and make plays on the football over the middle.

What he needs to improve on

Lee's biggest issue is something he can't do a thing about. At 6-feet-1-inch tall, Lee's height isn't ideal for the position. But plenty of players have dominated the NFL ranks at similar or even smaller stature. While Lee bulked up between his freshman and sophomore years, he could stand to add even more weight to his 195-pound frame. His strength becomes an issue when trying to beat press coverage, something he doesn't do consistently enough. If he manages to get even stronger while maintaining his speed and burst, he could be a dangerous and versatile offensive weapon in the NFL.

From a technical standpoint, Lee is a solid route runner but doesn't have the experience running a ton of different routes. His skill set and focus suggest that he wouldn't have an issue running any route in the book, but USC has limited him a bit in this area. He also has a tendency to let the ball come into his body on occasion. Though for the most part, Lee is a reliable hands catcher.

Bottom line

Lee enters the 2013 season as the top wide receiver prospect on most boards, and for good reason. He's been dominant in two seasons at USC and should only continue to develop in his junior season. Lee's ability to stretch the defense and make plays with the ball in his hands will give him plenty of chances to impress scouts this fall.

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